Also Illustrated by
Adrian Reynolds
Someone Bigger
Someone Bigger
Touch To See
Available as a Touch To See book from
Living Paintings

If We Had a Sailboat

Illustrated by Adrian Reynolds

If we had a sail boat,
If we had a racing yacht,
We could sail across the ocean
We could head for somewhere hot.

Jump aboard and journey to a treasure island, take a train ride through a steamy jungle and meet a Martian in outer space.

"A wonderful winding tale told in rhyme to an array of fantastically colourful illustrations."


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UK Hardcover • ISBN: 0192791192

UK Paperback • ISBN: 0192725580

Turkey Wales Wales
Click here for details of foreign language editions


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Illustrations © 2006 Adrian Reynolds. Reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press.

If you’ve read my comments about some of my other picture books on this site, you may know that it’s not unusual for even the simplest stories to go through numerous rewrites over a period of months, weeks or even years.  If We Had a Sailboat is the exception to this rule as it was written in a day.

It’s a simple story about the sort of imaginative play that most young children love to indulge in.  The three vehicles  - boat, train, rocket - that the children create for themselves are all things that my own children have improvised out of chairs, blankets and play-tents.

I rarely set out to write a story with a message, but often find that by the time I’ve finished a message is apparent.  In this case, it's that, while travelling to far flung places might make life more exotic and exciting, what makes life really satisfying is sharing our experiences - imaginary or otherwise - with our friends and loved ones.

Oxford University Press bought the story along with another of my picture books, Someone Bigger, which is also illustrated by Adrian Reynolds.  The two books were to be published around the same time, and so this book was initially to be illustrated by another illustrator.  However, after spending about a year looking, we couldn’t find anyone who felt quite right.  In the meantime, Adrian had completed his illustrations for Someone Bigger.  Having seen what a terrific job he had made of them, he now seemed like the natural candidate for this book, so I was delighted when he agreed to illustrate it as well.

I always have some idea of how the pictures in my picture books might look, but Adrian’s illustrations have always surprised and surpassed my expectations.  I’d always imagined this story to be about family – so I was expecting to see siblings and possibly a parent or two.  However, Adrian’s illustrations suggest that the story could also be about friendship*, which works equally well.  Similarly, I’d expected the real world bits of the book (where the children improvise their vehicles) to be set indoors, Adrian chose to set them outdoors instead – which lends itself to the ingenious use of the dustbin.

* Although the children could be step-siblings, but the dog is obviously not!

This book
is for

Rachel, Max
and Laura

my own
pirate crew.

This is a wonderful winding tale told in rhyme to an array of fantastically colourful illustrations. The vivid journey conjured up by the children in the story sees them joining a pirate crew on board ship, racing through the jungle and meeting Martians! This book proves you really can go anywhere if you imagine hard enough - perfect reading for a summer day!


Two children - one black, one white – use their creative imaginations to transform their everyday surroundings into a series of much more exciting scenarios. A dustbin, a kitchen chair and a tree provide the raw materials for journeys in a racing yacht, a steam train and a space rocket – all accompanied by their trusty dog. Like most children, they know the difference between fantasy and reality. They relish their imaginary excursions, but they also know how to value the reality of their friendship for one another.


Hardcover ISBN
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(Welsh/English) Bilingual Edition
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