This is Big Boat.
This is Big Boat’s important job.
Every day, Big Boat carries big boxes in the water to the other side of the world.
Big Boat steers the boxes through huge waves and under giant bridges.
She keeps the boxes safe through the scary seas.
This is her work.
But Big Boat did not like her job.
All around her she saw other boats:
Small strong boats pulling heavy things.
Small boats with big sails making people smile.
Big Boat wanted to make people smile. Carrying the boxes was so boring and she was always in the way of the other boats.
“Oh no!” Big Boat said when the little boats had to go around her. “Excuse me! I’m sorry!”
But she could not move. She could not turn. She was too large.
One day, while Big Boat was taking her boxes across the sea, there was a terrible storm.
The clouds were dark gray and the lightning flashed. Big Boat was scared.
“Oh no!” Big Boat cried. Her boxes! She had to protect them.
Big Boat let the waves push her around.
She made a funny shape with her path.
All night she kept the boxes safe. She did not let them fall.
In the morning, the sun came out. “Toot toot!” said the Big Boat, because she was proud.
But she was feeling a little dizzy. The big storm had spun her around so many times.
She tried to sail straight. She would get a break soon, she thought.
All day she sailed until she reached the canal.
The Suez Canal was a big break for the boat. Here, there were no waves. There was no storm.
All Big Boat had to do was sail straight through the canal and she would emerge into a different, calmer, sea.
It was easy! Big Boat had done this a thousand times.
She could probably do it with her eyes closed, Big Boat thought.
And so she did.
. . .
Big Boat opened her eyes. Her tummy hurt.
Oh no! Big Boat had run into the side of the canal!
Big Boat checked her boxes. They were safe. But she couldn’t move.
She tried to back up.
She tried to twist.
She tried to rock.
But she was too big.
She was stuck.
“Toot toot!” said the boats behind her.
“Toot toot!” said the boats coming toward her.
They wanted to go through the canal, too.
“Oh no!” Big Boat cried.
This was the worst thing that could happen.
Big Boat tried to wiggle again, but she didn’t move at all. She began to cry.
“What am I good for?” Big Boat asked the tiny tug boats who came to try and pull her away from the wall.
“You are so kind,” they told her. But they could not get her unstuck.
“I am terrible!” Big Boat told the teeny yellow construction trucks that tried to dig her tummy out.
“No, you are nice!” they told her.
“I am the Biggest Worst Boat that ever lived,” she told the canal workers who came to try and push on her side and move her.
“We like you, Big Boat,” they said. But Big Boat couldn’t hear them.
All night, Big Boat couldn’t sleep. She woke up the next morning even more tired than before.
“I am so sorry,” Big Boat told the canal worker who came to check on her. “I am still stuck.”
“Big Boat, don’t worry,” he said. He smiled. “Everyone loves that you are stuck.”
“What?” asked Big Boat. “I thought everyone was mad at me for being so big.”
“No,” said the canal worker. “Only the big companies are mad. Everyone else loves you. Look.”
He showed Big Boat the newspaper articles, and the videos online. He read her jokes. “I feel like the Big Boat,” someone said. “Same,” said another.
“Listen,” he said, and Big Boat heard the other boats yelling, “Toot toot!” to her.
Big Boat smiled.
She was an icon. She was beloved.
“You are perfect, Big Boat,” the worker told her.
But she was still stuck.
Featuring illustrations by Chris Thompson