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A Boy and a Bear in a Boat Paperback – 14 Mar 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books (PB) (14 Mar 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849920524
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849920520
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.2 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 222,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Rich in atmosphere and gently humorous, this is a delightful small-scale but epic adventure . . . A book to savour" (Julia Eccleshare)

"Very special" (Guardian)

"Just occasionally, a gentle funny little book pops up in which the story, tone, illustrations and even cover are so perfectly attuned to each other, and to the children for whom it is intended, that it lifts one's spirits. This is such a book" (Sally Morris The Daily Mail)

"A charming journey of discovery at sea for eight year olds and above" (Lorna Bradbury The Daily Telegraph)

"One of the most original children's books I've ever read" (Philip Reeve)

"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 . . . 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" (The Bookbag)

"I liked it because of the excitement - I loved the way all of these exciting things just kept happening to them by accident, and it was really funny. My favourite part of the story is when their makeshift raft flies off the rock column into the sea. But the whole book is lovely, lots of fun and has lots of lovely pictures" (Mae (Year 4 ) Wilberfoss Primary School Blog)

"This title says it all... And yet somehow doesn't. This is indeed a story about a boy, and a bear, in a boat - seriously off course, and down to the Very Last Sandwich. Sometimes scary, sometimes deeply touching, and often very funny indeed. Dave Shelton's writing carries echoes of both Antoine De Saint-Exupery and John Boyne, as his characters display real emotions in a succession of increasingly surreal situations. The book ends with a new horizon; asking pupils to write the next scene would offer a great opportunity to stretch their imaginations as well as experiment with dialogue." (Helen Mulley Teach Primary)

"A Boy and a Bear in a Boat is an absolute gem of a book. It is a beautifully tender and enchanting story of a developing friendship between two most unlikely characters, in the most improbable of settings...The story broaches many themes including friendship, hope and courage to name a few, but touches on them with lightness and wonderful humour, including some particularly funny moments and splendid repartee...The book, as an object, is absolutely stunning. The cover itself is marvellous, complete with tea stain and worn edges and one must applaud the publisher for taking a possible risk by choosing style and beauty over a more "commercial" cover. The inside illustrations work in perfect unison with the tone of the text. The bear is particularly glorious; there something so kind and safe about his demeanour." (Library Mice)

"This is an insightful read that is both poignant and laugh out loud funny. The developing relationship between the boy and the bear is beautifully observed. It captures the everyday minutiae of situations every child experiences - boredom, questioning authority, making things worse while trying to help - and sets these in a surreal world of a boy in a boat rowed by a bear encountering adventures whilst "not lost" on the high seas." (We Love This Book)

"Bursting with strange and wonderful sights, full of adventure and far from realistic, this is a riveting tale that will capture both children and adults through its quirky storytelling. Shelton successfully manages to show how strangers can become friends despite everything, yet highlighting the challenges of friendship along the way!" (Booktrust)

"A Boy and a Bear in a Boat is a very unusual book. The storytelling is calm, rich and surprising - much like the sea on which the Harriet journeys...Their story is one of hilarity, trouble and glee. ..And then there is The Very Last Sandwich to contend with." (Mr Ripley's Enchanted Books)

"A whimsical and old-fashioned tale with adorable illustrations, it's a heart-warming, slow-paced alternative to the norm." (Cambridge News)

"The illustrations have a beautiful, simple elegance, a graphic novel style that adds an air of adventure and uncertainty to the book." (Little Big Magazine)

"Entirely unpredictable. It’s an indescribable mix of fable, friendship, trust, adventure; odd, innocent, and quite wonderful" (Independent on Sunday)

"This is one of the most eloquent and wonderful books of the year. The story is powerful – and beautifully surreal, the characters fascinatingly portrayed and the illustrations gorgeous . . . It’s laugh out loud funny, poignant and quite, quite breathtaking." (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education)

Book Description

A charming, funny and utterly original journey: this book will put a huge grin on every reader's face.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Woodcock on 25 Mar 2012
Format: Hardcover
Having just finished reading this book I felt compelled to find out what other people made of it while hoping that they all enjoyed the adventure as much as I did. Upon discovering at the time of writing that there was just one Amazon review of the book, I was saddened.

While aimed at children between the ages of 7 and 12, this book can and should be read at any age. While I can't say that I am a regular reader of kid's fiction, it was the books curious cover that first caught my attention and peaked my interest to the point that I had to pick it up and read about it. The synopsis grabbed me immediately and as I flicked through the pages glimpsing the wonderful illustrations I was sold.

The story is as basic as the title suggests: A Boy and a Bear set off in a Boat and this is what happens next.

The Bear is the little boat's Captain, and the Boy is the passenger. What was supposed to be a simple journey "to the other side" soon turns into a grand marine adventure lasting weeks at sea. During this time, the pair find themselves working together battling hunger, dangerous creatures, "unforeseeable anomalies" and, indeed, themselves, all while killing time playing the same games and reading the same things over and over and over again.

Dave Shelton's characterisations are lovingly and believably brought to life. The boy is a normal young lad, impatient, easily bored, fidgety, and lacks full control of his emotions sometimes doing the opposite of what his mind tells him to. The Bear on the other hand is much more reserved and calm with a patience mastered only through his times at sea, and his gruff, sometimes threatening exterior is contradicted by his surprising sensitivity to the Boy's immature outbursts.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John Fulton on 28 Jan 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everything about this book is a joy. The cover is a work of genius, the illustrations are perfect, and the story is wonderful. I love ebooks, but volumes like this are a genuine pleasure to hold in your hand. As for the story - the titular boy sets off in the boat with its captain, a bear. What should have been a short journey (whither and whence, we are never told) turns into both adventure and misadventure, with shipwrecks and seamonsters, dodgy sandwiches and endless games of I Spy. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By heather martin on 22 Jun 2013
Format: Paperback
I was a children's bookseller for a well known chain of high street bookshops, and when this little hardback first came into store with its plain blue cover, I was intrigued. No garish colours, no cartoons, just a blue slipcover with a tea/coffe stain. I kept picking it up, wondering how it could appeal to a 5 - 8 year old (the category in which it was placed), and how I could possibly sell it. I borrowed it, took it home and read it, and haven't stopped thinking of it since (two years later!). I really wanted to hear other people's opinions, because, to me, there is so much more going on - is the boat, Harriet, named for the boy's Mother? Has she died, and the bear is the Father, captaining the boy to safety? In which case, is he a terrible cook (the sandwich) and a terrible conversationalist? Is the thought of Harriet the only thing they can cling to when everything seems lost? I'll never know, but it is a very lovely, beautifully written book, with superb illustrations. Read it: it won't disappoint.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By The Kinniburgh Kid on 2 Jun 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You can judge this book by its cover for both inside and out are witty, deceptively simple and charming.

The title tells all for it is from beginning to end about a boy and a bear in a boat. It's also about growing up, trust, parenting, optimism and all sorts of others things I probably won't realise until I have read it a few more times. I've cherished Richard Bach's Illusions for most of my life and I class this alongside it. I know I'll be recommending it to friends and rereading it myself again and again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Widdas on 6 July 2012
Format: Hardcover
I had a read very generous reviews of this book and was intrigued when I saw the cover in my library, thinking it might be an adult book as much as a childrens book.After reading it I think it is really a childrens book, and defined by it's pace and slow passages of explanation that have wit and the use of 'anomaly' that might explain the nature of the book. I suspected it might become an ecological tale but was relieved when it didn't. It is a good tale of the trials and tribulations of making a relationship, with a brave ending, but unfortunately not up to the publishers claims like many books. Enjoyable, a good read for holidays or with kids on a sea journey.
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Format: Paperback
Let's face it, there is nothing more exciting in the world than opening up a book and finding a voice, a character or a story that you instantly connect with. For me, B&ABIAB was such a book. The plot (if there is one) is negligible. I loved spending time with the nameless Boy and Bear, and their aimless journey across a never-ending ocean. This is a real exercise in how a writer can create a whole world just using character, and how to populate their story with two (yes, just two) people you instantly want to read more of.

The story and the style bring to mind writers such as Flann O'Brien , Samuel Beckett, and Tom Stoppard, but accessible to all ages. If I've any complaint, it is that the book was too short. I could have easily kept reading this book about nothing! The illustration by the author Dave Shelton are perfect also, capturing the innocence and absurdity of the story. More please!
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