How It Feels to Be a Boat gives you a hint as to what being a boat is like… but tells you more about what it’s like to be a human.

Title: How It Feels to Be a Boat
Author and Illustrator: James Kwan
Rating: 8
Source: Raincoast Books for review

Description from Goodreads:

Sometimes being a boat is full of adventures and it’s nothing but smooth sailing on the high seas, but sometimes arguing passengers can take you off course. When you run aground, will their teamwork give you the strength to make it through? Offbeat and imaginative, James Kwan gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to not only be a boat, but what it is to be human in both gentle and rough waters. Perfect for life’s transitions, this book tackles taking on change and indecision with grace, humor, and heart. It’s a reassuring reminder to stay the course through all kinds of stormy weather. Ahoy, ahoy!

What I Thought:

This quirky and original story follows a ship heading out to sea, fording troubled waters, crashing, and then pulling itself together again.

The illustrations are definitely the best part of this book. With muted colours, hidden secrets, and adorable characters, Kwan tells a beautiful story before words are even read.

To be completely honest, while I enjoyed this book, I wasn’t totally in love with it. BUT MY KIDS ARE MADLY IN LOVE WITH IT. Every time they bring a stack of books over to be read, this one is right on top. They love looking for the little characters and seeing what each one is up to.

After realizing that this book and its little boat are supposed to be a metaphor for ourselves, I started to enjoy it much more. It’s such an interesting way to describe life’s ups and downs! And, of course, the wonderful resiliency of the human spirit.



Kwan also does illustration, animation, and has written another book. Check him out at his website!


You are a boat. You can do big things.