Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat
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Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  314 ratings  ·  88 reviews
When Jonathan loses his best friend, a stuffed bear named Frederick, he sets sail on the Big Blue Boat to find him. Along the way he assembles a ragtag crew, including a mountain goat, a lonely circus elephant, and even a friendly whale. Adventure and intrigue (and pirates!) follow.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Roaring Brook Press
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Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnellI Want My Hat Back by Jon KlassenGrandpa Green by Lane SmithPerfect Square by Michael  HallBlackout by John Rocco
2012 Mock Caldecott
17th out of 83 books — 177 voters
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice SendakHarold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett JohnsonCars and Trucks and Things That Go by Richard ScarryThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleFreight Train by Donald Crews
Greatest little boy books ... ages 2 - 6
145th out of 306 books — 90 voters


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Community Reviews

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Elisabeth
I may be letting my admiration for "A Sick Day for Amos McGee" bleed into reviewing this one - but I do love this book. He is fanciful but matter of fact. He doesn't need to explain HOW or really even WHY a big blue boat sails on a whale (or how animals ride on a bus to visit Amos McGee). It just happens. For some reason I had flashes of Roald Dahl while reading this. Maybe it was the fact that a child has a whimsical adventure and makes the decisions without much adult influence. Collage is one...more
Kristin
Having viewed the trailer (over and over), for which Mr. Stead also composed the music, I so wanted to fall in love with this story. I laughed out loud over the item bartered for, enjoyed the clever ways the animals participate in this cumulative tale, but overall I didn't connect as much as I'd hoped. That said, the art is some of the best I've seen. Brilliant, vibrant, detailed, and whimsical, it demonstrates the creator's passion for all things nautical. All in all, I loved this story enough...more
David
While I loved A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and admire some of the art in Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead, I just didn't get into this fantasy story. In fact, parts of the story really got my goat, not the goat in this story mind you, nor do I actually own a goat, but just as a figure of speech - as in annoyed. First a story and illustration recap:

The story follows a young boy, whose parents trade his teddy bear for a toaster, and his quest to recover his beloved bear.

When Jonath...more
Allison Parker
Let your preconceptions set sail before embarking on this voyage of a book. In Jonathan’s world, a tugboat captain has no problem assisting a little boy in setting off on a great ocean liner in search of a lost friend, and parents don’t think twice about trading their child’s beloved teddy bear for a toaster. “Toasters really are useful,” they explain. And so Jonathan has no choice but to retrieve his dear teddy named Frederick on the great blue bloat that sits in the harbor, and to collect alon...more
Melissa
I am so weird. Why do I dislike Itsy Mitsy Runs Away but love this one? They both have wacky premises and perverse parents.

BUT. I think the writing in Big Blue Boat is much stronger, more lyrical, with better rhythm and repetitive structure.

And Jonathan leaves those perverse parents far behind and is his own agent and solves his own problems with the help of his new companions, and finally, yes, finds Frederick (Mitsy never DOES really run away, does she?) in the arms of a girl who is HER own...more
Caren
Too many different art mediums used, so it feels a bit muddy to me. Wouldn't give it my vote.
Boni
The art is FANTASTIC, but the text didn't quite live up to the art for me.
Amy Musser
Each day Jonathan and his best friend, Frederick, a stuffed bear, walk down to the wharf and gaze up at the Big Blue Boat. But one day Jonathan’s parents decide he’s too old for stuffed animals and trade Frederick for a toaster. Heartbroken, Jonathan walks to the wharf alone. There he decides to search the world for his friend sailing on the Big Blue Boat. In his search Jonathan runs into trouble, but he makes new friends (a goat, an elephant, and a whale) that help the boat stay afloat. Finally...more
Linda
Philip Stead has authored and illustrated this book of a boy's search for his teddy bear, his best friend, Frederick. Jonathan's parents have traded the bear in for a toaster when they think he has, or should have, outgrown the need for a stuffed animal. Jonathan sets off to find Frederick, ending up on this big blue boat sailing the ocean blue. Jonathan gathers new friends as he travels, each one solving a mishap. They bring aboard aspects of life that Jonathan needs such as friendship, caring,...more
Kristin McIlhagga
Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat is an entertaining cumulative tale about a boy's adventures searching for his beloved bear Frederick. For me, the illustrations really made the difference in pulling me into the story. Author Philip Stead and his wife Rebecca became widely known for A Sick Day for Amos McGee when it won the Caldecott Medal for illustration in 2011. This book shows that the illustrations talents are not limited to Rebecca - the use of collage and beautiful water colors are absolutel...more
Laura
I almost really loved this book. Jonathan's parents trade his beloved stuffed bear, Frederick, for a toaster. Jonathan takes the Big Blue Boat to search for Frederick and along the way, meets a cast of characters who join him on the ship. I loved the cumulative part of the story and the repetition in Jonathan's adventure.

The tone has a calm, soothing quality that I think makes the perfect bedtime story. The story is a bit slow to start; Jonathan's parents are presented briefly as mean, uncaring...more
Robin
When Jonathan's parents trade his teddy bear Frederick for a toaster, Jonathan sails the big blue boat out to sea in search of his friend. He picks up passengers and makes new friends along the way, including an elephant who is too old for the circus, but is valued as an "experienced traveler" and a whale who rescues the boat after it is attacked by pirates by swimming with it on his back. (Reminds me a bit of John Burningham's Mr. Gumpy.) Stead's illustrations are a highlight -- his children an...more
Fjóla
The story is not as strong as Stead's A Home for Bird or A Sick Day for Amos McGee, and at times it felt a little fractured. In fact, two or three times I flipped the pages back to see if I had accidentally skipped a previous page, that's how much there seemed to be holes in the story. It is nonetheless a very memorable book, and the collage illustrations help set it apart. This is why I finally liked it very much.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jonathan’s parents trade his teddy bear for a toaster, so Jonathan must set off on a journey alone on a Big Blue Boat to find Frederick. Along the way, he befriends a mountain goat, a circus elephant, and a whale.

A slyly humorous story.

“’Hello,’ said Jonathan to a mountain goat. ‘I’m looking for a bear named Frederick.’

The goat was startled. He had never met a sea captain before.

‘I’ve never met a bear before,’ said the goat, ‘but someday I would like to.’

Jonathan looked up. ‘I could use a first...more
Teresa
As much as I'm in love with A Home For Bird, I'm meh about this book. I do like the collage art and the idea that one could trade a functional toaster for a bear makes me giggle but the rest of it, not so much.
Suburban Homeschooler
Repetitive and additive structure. Liked the art, but dislike the story starting with parents that would secretly trade away a child's precious possession. Why?
Barbara
Collage and acrylic illustrations rely on images from the author/illustrator's personal collection of stamps of boats and ships, combining for intricate, layered pages. After Jonathan's parents trade his beloved stuffed bear for a toaster, he determinedly embarks on a quest to find his friend. Along the way, be picks up many other friends and has interesting adventures. His loyalty toward his stuffed companion touched me. I liked the language in the book and the illustrations, but I couldn't get...more
Christina
Philip C. Stead's "Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat", is a story about a little boy who loses his teddy-bear, and best friend. Jonathan then goes on a trip across seas to find his best friend. Along the Jonathan comes across other animals, and learns that he can have more than one best friend. I really liked this book because it talked about friendship, and how friendship comes in all shapes, sizes, and times. The illustrations in this book were very unique. They are done in a collage/watercolor f...more
Kim
Leave reality behind when reading this book - leap into the story and dive into the art. Jonathan isn't going to allow his parents odd decision stop him in his quest for his bear and the fact a tug boat captain helps him is just a way to set sail on this adventure for Jonathan is traveling to find Frederick and a helpful goat and an experienced elephant are very helpful mates.
(812 words)

Help support Independent book stores - please use this link to find a store near you or to purchase JONATHAN A...more
Jesse Lasarte
Love the illustrations in this book. I’m unfamiliar with the artistic medium used by Stead, but it definitely has texture. It appears to be cutouts of maps and stamps that have been pieced together and painted on using watercolors. My only criticism of this book is the story is not as strong as some of Stead’s other books. There doesn’t appear to be any theme to the story and the plot doesn’t develop in any real creative way. However, I’m an adult and I think a child would enjoy the story of how...more
Angela
It's a good thing this one was alredy in the works when the Caldecott was announced. I'd hate to have to wait for Philip to get over his newly-famous jitters and get back to work.

This story has lots of literary elements (repetative language, onomatopoeia, metaphor, similie, dialogue, plot, narrative, climax, resolution), but none detract from this adventure story.

Highly recommended for young listeners who can sit for a longer picture book. One that you can expect to read again and again.

Oh, and...more
Jennifer
Again, I can see why the Caldecott buzz. The illustrations just pop off the page. My only hesitation is that at times they almost overpower the story.

-boat is beautiful and interesting
-Jonathan and Frederick provide great size contrast
-Jonathan is always very expressive and approachable
-stamps, timetables, maps and other documents add intriguing layer of texture and depth in the artwork
-even the animals have great body language
-color bleeds to edges in most memorable pages. Beautiful blues, oran...more
Kimberly
Great friendship story.
Shelli
First the good. I really liked the illustrations. The childlike way many of the pictures are done, plus the incorporation of other elements like stamps or scraps of news papers make the pictures very interesting.

The story however was lacking. Just didn't love it at all. A young boys parents decide he is to old for his teddy bear so they trade it for a toaster. He then takes off in a big blue boat to search for his teddy bear friend high and low. The story just gets weird in a dumb way for me af...more
Angela
Jonathan, a little boy who has lost his best friend Fredrick, who is a teddy bear. Jonathan and Fredrick always went to the dock to see the Big Blue Boat everyday, but after Fredrick is lost Jonathan decides use the Big Blue Boat to find him. We follow Jonathan on his adventure to find Fredrick and on his journey he meets and makes new friends who help him. This is a good picture book to read aloud that contains sequencing for grades pre-k-3rd. It is also a good book for 1st-3rd grade to read on...more
Ann
This definitely reminded me of "A Sick Day for Amos McGee." And after I read it, what do you know? It was written by the Caldecott Winner's husband, Philip Stead. The illustrations are charming with residual newspaper print in the background. And even though it doesn't make logical sense, the boy, the bear, mountain goat,, circus elephant, little girl and the whale all fit together somehow like they belong. I love the fact that they made Jonathan African-American. It made the book just right.
Dillon
This book was very wonderful. It had illustrations that included clippings from newspaper, and they were very colorful. The words were altered to look what they sounds like. For example, when the animals were snoring the letters started out small, got big, then got small again to mimic the snoring noise. This book can teach children how to make friends because as the story goes on Jonathan becomes friends with whoever he meets and invites them along on his journey to find his bear.
Megan D. Neal
I'd give 5 stars for the collaged illustrations, which are fun and clever. (They would make a wonderful teaching tool for a unit on collage in art class.)
I'm only giving 2 stars for the story because I don't feel like the story flows well, and it was...lacking. My young children didn't find it very appealing, and I got bored reading it, never a good sign, in my opinion. My four-year-old, my target audience, wandered away halfway through the story.
Dolly
Sep 13, 2011 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a strange and whimsical story that follows a young boy as he goes out into the world in search of his beloved stuffed bear. It has wonderful illustrations, filled with bits of mixed media; especially stamps and travel-related items, like maps and charts. The story itself is quite fantastic and somewhat bizarre, but lovable, too. And the repetition is sure to be a hit with younger children. We really enjoyed reading this story together.
Christi
Wonderful details in the collage work in the illustrations. I could spend hours pouring over each spread. Stead's style, both classic and whimsical, is still apparent in the line drawings that overlay the collage (complete with adorable elephant!) I'm not certain the text works as well as it could, but as a package I truly enjoyed the book. And I've found myself going back to it again and again to look at the illustrations.
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“You're getting too old for a stuffed animal. So we traded your bear for a toaster.” 2 likes
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