Another book on my Carnegie 2013 hitlist is A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton.
This is the fifth of the 2013 Carnegie books which I have read and is another good read. Nowhere near as impressive as Wonder or as thought provoking as The Weight of Water but it was, for reasons which I can’t quite fathom yet, unputdownable.
The books follows Boy and Bear (yes that is what they are called) and their adventure (if one can call it that) in a small wooden boat. Got it? Yeah, you found that much out from the title, I know.
At the opening Boy is boarding the boat on his way to… well… erm… I don’t actually know where.
Let’s just skip the premise shall we… read the title… that’s enough of a premise.
What’s good about it?
It doesn’t have crazy cliff hangers or heart pumping action but it makes you really care about these characters. The relationship between the characters is what drives the novel and I think that anyone reading this will be able to see a relationship of their own mirrored in that of the main characters.
This book celebrates the moment and has a great feeling of positivity surrounding it. It is great for younger children as it teaches them about sharing, forgiving, being resilient to setbacks. These are messages proliferated in the old bed times stories but which are perhaps forgotten in much modern children’s literature. It is a story about the journey.
It is also good for adults. It allows us to have a chuckle at the smaller things in life. The disagreements, the delays, the hiccups along the way.
What turned me off?
The problem with this book is that you are sometimes left wondering what the point of it is. It sort of feels like it’s been written without a point and that it’s reminding you of things which you already knew but just hadn’t thought about in a while. I suppose that could be a good thing though – the book is making us stop and smell the roses.
I’m not quite sure who this book really is aimed at. The title and the cover won’t really appeal to adults and it’ rather a fat book for a struggling reader to attempt. I get the feeling that children will turn their noses up at the book for being too childish but young children won’t manage it on their own.
Who is it for then?
I think the ideal audience for this book are parents who read to their children. That’s all parents right? PLEASE tell me that’s all parents. Perhaps if you don’t read to your children this is a place where you could start?
A fun journey and a sweet and touching portrait of two friends. Probably not one to qualify for a second reading though.