Old Wood Boat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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Title: Old Wood Boat

Author & Illustrator: Nikki McClure

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2022

Ages: 5-8

Format/Genre: fiction

Themes: sailing boats, sailing, renovating, traveling, life at sea


Old Wood Boat sits in the yard.
She remembers the wind.
She remembers islands and a sea of green.
She remembers and she waits.


Nikki McClure tells the story of a restored old boat. Old wood boat remembers the wind. Dilapidated and parted from the sea, she remembers and waits as her mast cracks and blackberry vines creep across her deck. But one day, a family tows her home. Scraped, scrubbed, sanded, and varnished, she is made beautiful and seaworthy again. After libations have been poured out, the family casts off, and old wood boat embarks on adventure once more.

Why I like this book:

This is truly a love letter to sailing. After reading this unusual picture book, the first thing I did was to research the author-illustrator, as I felt like she must have a close personal link to sailing and or/life by the sea. The story is told from the boat’s point of view and feels so intimate and yet universal.

Nikki McClure is from the Pacific Northwest, Olympia, Washington and she is known for her painstakingly intricate and beautiful paper cuts. She carves her art using an X-acto knife on a single sheet of paper, creating very unique art, almost like wood carving. The art is as captivating as the story of Old Boat’s renovation by a family who love her. The family feel almost from a different period of time and almost of indeterminate ages.

It is heavy on nautical terminology so I do think the most appreciative audience might be families with a boating connection, but the author does include a detailed double-paged spread of terminology that I think will appeal to non-nautical kids who love pouring over details.

This is a beautiful homage to the sea and sailing with lyrical language that conjures the rise of the waves and the sail-filling winds.

Old Wood Boat gains speed with the ebb
and rides the swells with ease.


The back contains a glossary entitled “How To Talk Like a Sailor”, to add to the middle pages of vocab.

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7 Responses to Old Wood Boat – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Jilanne F Hoffmann says:

    Love the illustrations and the POV. You’ve just given me an idea for the perfect gift for Rem…heh heh heh. Thank you!

  2. Intriguing. I am going to have to find this one and check out Nikki’s process. I think my husband would have enjoyed this book. He loved sailing and working on books. Thanks for featuring this one.

  3. Oooh! I love Nikki McClure’s work! Hope my library has it!

  4. Joanna says:

    Yes, I have thought of several adults I think would like this.

  5. I love that the story is told from the boat’s POV — it’s memories of sailing once again come to life because a family took time to lovingly restore and sail her. Beautiful tale.

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