HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River
Author: Gertrude Crampton
Illustrator: Tibor Gergely
Publisher: Golden Books, republished in 2001
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 3-7
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Crampton, Gertrude. Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River (published in 1946 by Golden Books, a division of Western Publishing Company Inc., Racine, WI 53404). Scuffy is a red toy tugboat with a blue smokestack who doesn’t like sitting in a toy shop. So the man with the polka dot tie who owns the store takes Scuffy home where his little boy sails him in the bathtub. But Scuffy doesn’t like being limited to a bathtub either. So the man and the boy take Scuffy to a brook, and Scuffy sails away, down the brook to the river, past villages and cities, all the way to the sea. What will happen to the little tugboat? Will Scuffy ever make it back home?
This Little Golden Book is not one that we had when I was growing up, but I have heard of it for years. I have read reviews of the book which debate whether or not it is “a fear-based warning not to seek anything outside the safest confines life has to offer because the world is dangerous and doesn’t notice or care about us.” Some people, especially the world’s cynical intellectuals, seem to feel that they have to analyze everything, including children’s books, from a deep, psychological viewpoint. Why can’t we just enjoy a good story with the subtle message about being careful not to bite off more than we can chew? Scuffy learns that it’s never too late to turn back or change one’s mind.