Cynthia Cotten, Virginia Childrens Author, fiction and poetry

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Cynthia Cotten, Vermont childrens author, The Book Boat

Cover copyright 2013
Frane Lessac

A picture book, illustrated by Frane Lessac, published by Holiday House, 2013.

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2013

Bank Street College of Education's "Best Books of 2014"

Nominee for Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award

The book boat is a floating library that travels back and forth along the Erie Canal. Jesse has found the book he wants--and he has just one week to earn enough money to buy it when the boat comes back on its last trip for the season.

From the Reviewers

Kirkus Reviews

The text is laced with dialogue featuring homey turns of phrase, revealing Jesse's passion for stories and capturing the warmth between the characters. Naive folk-art-style paintings in bright gouache reflect Jesse's hopeful, eager nature. Although simply rendered, the facial expressions speak volumes. ...Jesse's pride of ownership and the closing scene of Jesse writing his name and the year in his very first book will resonate with book lovers of all ages.


This simple story illuminates an overlooked facet of library history--floating libraries--while combining the honest values of an earlier era with a straightforward telling. Cotten's clean language feels true to its time, matched by the direct composition of Lessac's primitive-style paintings. An author's note fills in some historical details about the Erie Canal and the boats that traveled along it, adding curricular opportunities to this earnest, old-fashioned tale.

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