Life story

The Life Story of Lil’ Toot – The Santa Barbara Independent

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Little Toot often saves the day for tourists, parents, or anyone looking for an affordable, scenic, and quick boat ride between Santa Barbara Harbor and Stearns Wharf. Who would have thought that the life story of this little yellow tugboat could also be an inspiration for all ages?

How Lil’ Toot Got His Smile tell the real story of how Captain Fred and Kathy Hershman of Celebration Cruises resurrected the awkwardly sized ship into a seaside attraction in 2003. Written by Madeline Gabor, a Camarilllo native, University of Oregon grad who works for Hershmans since June 2021, and colorfully illustrated by Nadia Rajput, the children’s book is a delightful story of redemption and finding your place in the world. Gabor tells us more below.

Why did you turn Little Toot‘s story in a book? It was actually Kathy and Fred’s idea. After graduating, I received a scholarship to write a children’s book, which I always wanted to do. I had the story since high school. I told my boss about my success when that book was finished, and she said, “We always wanted to write a book about Little Toot.” That’s when I asked him to write a book. Kathy told me about how he came to Santa Barbara, and it seemed like the words slipped from my fingers as I typed. The story came to me so easily. Also, if you have ever met Fred and Kathy, you can see how hardworking and caring they are, so I was more than happy to do so!

How true is the story? 100 per cent. Everything in the book is true. Little Tootthe old name was Captain Red, and Fred found it in someone’s yard in Massachusetts that needed a lot of repairs. The last page of the book shows photos of Little Tootthe transformation.

What should readers learn? The moral of the story is one of self-acceptance and love. Little Toot couldn’t thrive in someone’s yard, because it’s a boat that’s supposed to be in the water. Surround yourself with people who uplift you and try to put yourself in environments that are beneficial to you and your growth. The story can also be used as a tool for any adoptive family.

Copies signed by the author are available on board Little Toot and at the ticket office on Stearns Wharf. To see

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