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A Boy And A Bear In A Boat In A Book
on 25 March 2012
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.
Perhaps the most surprising character in the story, and the only one of the three to have a known name, is the Boat itself, Harriet. The Harriet is conveyed charmingly through it's history. Filled with bits and bobs left by other passengers on previous journeys, packed neatly yet forcefully under the seats, the boat's contents become life savers at points. The Bear's own attachment to "her" is always obvious through his maintenance and there are times where you, the reader, get concerns for it's safety.
Scattered regularly throughout the book are the author's accompanying illustrations, all of which are an absolute delight. Every so often we are also treated to a double page colour illustration that are nothing short of dazzling. I want Dave Shelton to illustrate all children's books from now on, thank you.
Every once in a while a book comes along that you just can't help but love. I keep very few books once I've read them, and this is a keeper. As I read, I got completely caught up from first meeting the characters, being enlightened as to what the book cover signifies, straight to the story's unexpected and surprising conclusion. By the end I was quite simply lost for words to describe how I felt about it. It is for this reason (and many others) that this book has a permanent place on my bookshelf.
Here's hoping for a Major Animation Movie release!!