ISLANDER: The Circus Comes to Martha’s Vineyard, by Shirley W. Mayhew, illustrated by Linda Carnegie. Music Street Press, 30 pages. $20.

This charming story of the Vineyard’s long-beloved ferry Islander was written for three-to eight-year-olds. It was inspired by the two times in the 1960s when the Mills Brothers’ Circus came to the Vineyard to give performances in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.

Author Shirley Mayhew, a retired Edgartown school teacher and longtime West Tisbury resident, remembers those visits fondly. She also fondly remembers the ferry Islander that sailed Island waters from 1950 to 2005. So she has written this tale of the old Islander, sadly left in drydock in Woods Hole, after the snazzier, faster vessels, Nantucket and Uncatena replaced her in making Island crossings. The Islander’s paint began to peel and barnacles grew on her hull. In summer, she could hear the happy chatter of children climbing aboard the newer vessels as they headed for Vineyard vacations. She longed for jolly old sailing days.

Then one day, a man in a tall black hat and boots appeared at the Woods Hole wharf — looking, he said, for a big wide boat to carry his circus camels and elephants and horses and monkeys and tigers and one lion to Martha’s Vineyard to perform. Neither the fancy Nantucket nor the speedy Uncatena had the slightest desire to have smelly circus animals on board. The man with the tall black hat wasn’t interested in having them carry his animals either. He liked the solid, sensible look of the Islander and chose her for as his circus transport.

Linda Carnegie, who has done the cheery illustrations of the Islander and her four-footed passengers as well as of delighted Vineyard children welcoming the circus to the Island, has lived on the Island since 1974. Her colorful murals also decorate the West Tisbury Library walls and walls at the Massachusetts General Children’s Hospital in Boston.

Both author and illustrator will be signing copies of Islander on Thursday, July 28 at 5 p.m. at the West Tisbury Library, and on Friday, July 29 at noon at the Edgartown Library.