Friday, 25 May 2012

Little Toot

Hardie Gramatky may not be a name you may have heard of - at least in the United Kingdom - but it's interesting to know how one little Tugboat became the starting point for his career as a children's writer and illustrator lasting nearly 50 years.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Hardie made a name of himself as first an animator for Walt Disney in 1939 and then as an acclaimed painter / watercolour artist, earning an honorary academician in the National Academy of Design. It was during his time in New York that he caught sight of a small Moran tugboat "that didn’t seem to want to work", which inspired him to write his first children's book - "Little Toot" - and has since become a literature classic.
Hardie wrote various other stories on character vehicles - including Hercules the old-fashioned Fire Engine, Loopy the Airplane, Creeper's Jeep and Sparky the Trolley Car - but it was Little Toot who became the most familiar. Hardie wrote and illustrated five more stories in the series, which has seen the little Tugboat visit the River Thames of Britain, the Grand Canal of Italy, the Mississippi River, the Golden Gates of San Francisco and the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland. All accompanied by Hardie's beautiful artworks.
The original "Big Toot", Little Toot's Father
Many of these books have long since been out of print - but in honour of Hardie Gramatky's 100th birthday in 2007, the first Little Toot book was restored and published by Penguin Putnam.
Disney's Vision - Little Toot and Big Toot
However, many people (such as myself) may have first been introduced to Little Toot through animation. Hardie returned briefly to Walt Disney 1948 where his famous little Tugboat was brought to life as a musical segment for the movie Melody Time. Little Toot's story was told in song by The Andrews Sisters, how he went from a troublemaker to a hero, and is as fondly remembered as the original six books to date.


1 comment:

  1. Chris

    You may want to see this....