Book talk: Have you ever been on a roadtrip that seemed like it would never end? Well, at least there was a road to travel down and places to stop and get food. No such luck for this boy. He is stuck on a boat in the middle of nowhere with no land in sight, with only a bear who is probably lost and possibly completely insane. 'I spy' gets boring pretty quickly when the only things to see are the sea and the sky, and the only comic book on board isn't even in English. Through monster attacks and ghost ships, things look pretty bad for the boy and the bear. But despite it all they keep sailing to horizons unknown.
Rocks my socks: This book is like a cheerier, children's version of Waiting for Godot. Its title describes the contents of the book well. The novel starts with the boy boarding a boat with a bear for a captain and that's the way things stay for most of the novel. There's an occasional big event, like the monster attack, but for most of the novel nothing happens. And yet, it is absolutely hilarious! The most entertaining thing I've read in a while. Much like Godot the humor stems from the comedic timing of the two leads and the way they play off one another. Much like Godot it is suffused with dramatic irony as the audience increasingly feels that what the leads are waiting for (in this case, arrival at their undisclosed destination) is unlikely to ever arrive. Unlike Godot however the effect is somehow cheerful and ends on an optimistic note. The boy and bear get to know each other and develop a sweet friendship. The complete absurdity of the lovable but incompetent bear prevents things from getting too serious. Then there's the absolutely delightful illustrations drawn by the author that are sure to get a smile. It was the perfect Absurdist novel. The boy and bear are lost without any hope of land (or meaning for their journey) in sight and yet they keep on rowing and facing whatever life throws at them because what other choice do they have? The completely ridiculous nature of their circumstances makes it hard not to laugh even when things are looking grim. This is one of my new favorite books!
Rocks in my socks: nothing!
Every book its reader: I'd give this to kids 3rd grade and up looking for a funny story. Adult fans of Absurdism will appreciate this clever title as well.
Dave Shelton has his own site with a blog and a portfolio of his artwork
You can find instructions on how to draw a boy and a bear in a boat at the Guardian and they're exactly what you would expect from someone with the dry wit of Dave Shelton
You can see Dave read an excerpt from the book on YouTube:
Source: school library