Learn more about CCRLS
Reading recommendations from Novelist
Online learning resources
Cover image for Captain Jonathan sails the sea
Captain Jonathan sails the sea
Uniform Title:
Kapitän Jonathan. English

Publication Information:
New York : North-South Books, ©1997.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
A tugboat captain longs to join all the big ships as they travel to distant lands, but when he finally fulfills his desire, he finds out what he really needs to be happy.
Added Author:


Call Number

On Order



Captain Jonathan has a peaked cap and a smart navy-blue uniform. He is the captain of a ship -- not a very big ship, but a sturdy little tugboat called Santa Maria. Captain Jonathan helps all the other ships start their journeys to distant lands, until one day he can no longer resist the impulse to see the world himself. Captain Jonathan sets sail, but somehow the voyage doesn't live up to his hopes and dreams. And while the cabin boy Luke tries everything to cheer him, it takes a near disaster for Captain Jonathan to discover what he really needs to be happy.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2‘Even though his tugboat is the busiest vessel in the port, Captain Jonathan wishes that he could explore beyond its confines. One day he impulsively takes the Santa Maria out for a cruise around the world, which makes everyone happy but the captain himself. The tiny cabin boy, Luke, tries to cheer him up with a boat race, some hand-painted pictures, and an acrobatics contest, but none of his efforts succeed. But when Luke accidentally falls overboard and the captain rescues him, the man's spirits are restored. It turns out he needs to be useful. This warm story is accentuated by funny illustrations that effectively capture the sheer size of the steam ships, as well as appropriate details, such as the red up-and-down arrows on the inner side of the deck door of the Santa Maria. Pair Captain Jonathan with another character who wanted to feel useful‘Buckle from Officer Buckle and Gloria (Putnam, 1995) for a gentle duo.‘Lisa Marie Gangemi, Sousa Elementary School, Port Washington, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

Luke, cabin boy on the tugboat 'Santa Maria', bounces overboard in a miscalculated attempt to cheer up Captain Jonathan, who is homesick. The captain rescues him and then regales him with stories of 'swashbuckling pirates and stately galleons'; a remedy that cures them both. Warm, earthy illustrations, textured with an ochre underpainting for a swashy, brushy look, enhance the endearing storybook quality of this seafaring tale. From HORN BOOK 1997, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A shaggy dog tale with a seafaring slant, focusing on the wistful Captain Jonathan, of the tugboat Santa Maria. Towing the great oceangoing vessels out to harbor, Captain Jonathan entertains visions of what is beyond the breakwater. One morning he makes bold: ""We're not going back today. Let's sail around the world!"" A huzzah goes up from the crew, but Captain Jonathan can't maintain the mood once he's made the decision. Nothing can cheer him: not a big spaghetti dinner, not the cabin boy's drawings, not a race with an ocean liner, not even an exotic port of call. He is homesick, to be sure, but he also feels he is shirking his responsibilities back home. A crisis gives the captain the fix he needs: ""He just wanted to be useful."" No one would deny Slawski his point--and the charming illustrations compensate mightily--but the long, twisted path to making that point may lose readers along the way. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. A tugboat captain longs to sail around the world like the big ships he escorts out of the harbor, and one day he and his crew impulsively decide to head for the wide sea. Everyone else on board the small boat exults in the voyage, but Captain Jonathan keeps wondering whether the big ships are stuck in the harbor because he's not there to help. When a young boy falls overboard, though, Captain Jonathan discovers that what he really needs in life is to be helpful--in one way or another. With its cheery illustrations showing the turquoise sea, the diverse crew, and the homely tugboat, this picture book, translated from the German, will be a nice choice for preschoolers wanting books about boats. (Reviewed April 1, 1998)1558588132Susan Dove Lempke