A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton

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A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Sweet fable about friendship and trials with some lovely interactions between boy and bear and absolutely gorgeous illustrations.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 300 Date: January 2012
Publisher: David Fickling
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 0385618964

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Longlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2013

Shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013

Shortlisted for the Costa Children's book Award 2012

A boy and a bear go to sea, equipped with a suitcase, a comic book and ukulele. They are only travelling a short distance and it really shouldn't take too long. But then their boat encounters "unforeseeable anomalies"... Faced with turbulent stormy seas, a terrifying sea monster and the rank remains of The Very Last Sandwich, the odds soon become pitted against our unlikely heroes.

This set up reminds you of the Life of Pi, right? And I guess, in terms of imagination, it is a little bit like that. Our little boy - we never know his name - suffers the worst calamity imaginable to a child: he becomes stranded far from home and family while it becomes increasingly obvious that the bear, the authority figure, is as lost as he is. So there's some anxiety and some sulking and some crossness. But there's also a burgeoning friendship borne from adversity which leads, eventually, to peace and tranquility.

You might wonder if the boy ever makes it over to the other side, if the bear ever takes another passenger on the return journey, and even what happens to The Very Last Sandwich. Well, I shan't tell you. But I will say the ending is just perfect.

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat is a joy to read: slightly surreal, funny, a little bit scary. It's about friendship and trials but also simply about indulging your imagination. There are some lovely interactions between boy and bear and it will be interesting to see which appeal most to the children and which to their parents. The illustrations are just gorgeous, also ranging from daft to dark and beyond. And the whole package has just the right amount of delightful eccentricity, replacing the bear's landless map, with fake aging and even a tea stain.

I just can't imagine what more you could want.

Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne is another slightly surreal fable that is an absolute joy to read. I think you might also like Lost Christmas by David Logan which makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Buy A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton at Amazon.com.


Booklists.jpg A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton is in the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2012.
Booklists.jpg A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton is in the The CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013.

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