Three Bears in a Boat

David Soman. Dial, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3993-2
Soman, co-creator of the bestselling Ladybug Girl series, makes his first solo effort, one that gives his artwork plenty of opportunities to shine. Dash, Theo, and Charlie, three young bears, have broken their mother’s treasured blue shell in an attempt to reach the honey jar on the mantel. Rather than confess (they’re “Afraid of their mama, who, after all, was a bear”), they conspire to replace the shell before she gets home, setting off boldly to search for one in their sailboat. Their journey allows Soman to paint both comic vignettes (the bears meet a dory called “Melville” loaded with dogged-looking whalers and a harpoon) and breathtaking sea scenes as the bears get tossed by the huge green waves of a storm, meet some whales, and, in one particularly beautiful spread, sail along a glittering trail of light on the ocean waves. Soman manages to suggest the gentle colors and textures of old color lithography, giving the pages the feeling of a dog-eared vintage find. Although the artwork draws most of the attention, the understated writing and steady pacing offer solid support. Ages 3–5. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/24/2014
Release date: 05/20/2014
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