Timmy the Tug

Overview

A literary coup: the publication of a recently discovered and specially illustrated Ted Hughes poem for children, lost for over fifty years.Timmy was a paddle-boat, sound as a gong,
Not a worm in his timbers, fresh paint all over.
He was hale as a whale and twice as strong,
And he sailed on the peaceful river.
So begins the tale of Timmy the Tug and his subsequent adventures ...

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Overview

A literary coup: the publication of a recently discovered and specially illustrated Ted Hughes poem for children, lost for over fifty years.Timmy was a paddle-boat, sound as a gong,
Not a worm in his timbers, fresh paint all over.
He was hale as a whale and twice as strong,
And he sailed on the peaceful river.
So begins the tale of Timmy the Tug and his subsequent adventures as he escapes his moorings and explores the high seas. Timmy struggles to be helpful but doesn’t always succeed despite his best efforts. However, by trying and trying and trying again, he at last saves a beautiful ship in distress and so rediscovers his sense of pride.
Originally written in the mid-1950s and only recently rediscovered, this lyrical poem by Ted Hughes, created to accompany a story that was conceived and delightfully illustrated in watercolor by his friend Jim Downer, is presented here as a facsimile of the original manuscript.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Downer’s afterword to this story of an underdog tugboat recounts the remarkable story behind this collaboration. In 1950s London, Downer created the book, and poet Hughes, a friend, offered to contribute new verse. It wasn’t until Hughes’s second wife, Carol Hughes, returned the story to Downer in 2008 that Hughes’s verse came to light--ostensibly, his first picture book. Replicated from the original notebook on age-spotted paper, Hughes’s typewriter-printed text appears opposite Downer’s illustrations. Having been replaced by propeller boats, Timmy, whose curvy facial features and swooping belly give him a cetacean appearance, rusts in a harbor. Escaping to the high seas, he encounters vessels that begrudge his gentle tendencies (he frees fish in a net), but Timmy proves his fortitude by rescuing a sailing ship. Downer’s stylized watercolor and ink images have bold geometric patterns with shades of Art Deco, while Hughes’s mannered rhymes aggrandize a sweet and simple storyline: “The hail fell. There was no sun./ Like a hammer the wind beat./ But Timmy sang as he sailed on:/ ‘I’m more than a match for anyone/ Or anything I may meet.’” Hughes fans especially will value this rough-hewn gem. All ages. (May)
The Times [London]
“Vigorous, witty, and, as in all [Hughes’s] subsequent poetry for children, free from the temptation of talking down to his readers.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500514962
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 5/15/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Downer created Timmy the Tug as a young man fresh from art college in Leeds. He has always had a great love of the sea and now lives on the Isle of Wight.

Ted Hughes was the Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. He published many children’s books, including My Brother Bert, How the Whale Became, and Collected Poems for Children.

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