Author: Dave Shelton
Release date: This paperback edition 14th March 2013
Genre: Comedy adventure
Target audience: 7+
UK Publisher: David Fickling Books
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat is a seafaring adventure story. It’s a quirky book with charismatic illustrations for younger readers.
Boy steps aboard Bear’s boat. He’s going somewhere but we don’t know where. The Bear is the ship’s captain and he rows the boy across the sea. It’s a long way but how far, we don’t know. Boy is in a hurry to get there but Bear understands the beauty of the wide open sea. As they journey across the sea, they experience the joys and difficulties of friendship and a great adventure.
This story is all about the journey and not the destination. It’s about enjoying the adventure of travelling for its own sake. It’s a sort of metaphor for life I think. It’s not reaching a goal that’s important but rather the experiences you have in attempting to reach it. As well as the deeper meaning, there’s also the humorous story of being stuck in a boat with a Bear who likes to drink tea. There’s slapstick and use of repetition for comic effect.
You might think a story which pretty much takes place in a very small boat would be quite boring. I for one am not a fan of “sailing” or “pirate” stories, but actually there is a good amount of action in this book. There’s a sea monster, there’s a storm and there’s a ghost ship.
I think parents will enjoy this book as much as younger readers. There’s a special humour about the fact that children get bored so easily. I found it entertaining. A Boy and a Bear in a Boat has an unusual style; it reminds me of a picture book in some ways – the illustrations and the form of the plot: each chapter is like the page turn of a picture book, there’s something new each time. It also has a charming humour which makes it a fun read.