Bad Bears, Good Bears: Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman
ONCE THERE WERE THREE BEARS, DASH, CHARLIE, AND THEO.
ONE DAY WHEN THEIR MOTHER WAS OUT, THE THREE BEARS DID SOMETHING THEY REALLY SHOULDN'T HAVE DONE.
Little bears will be little bears. Mama Bear has put the honey jar well out of reach of greedy little paws, but unfortunately, she has chosen the mantle where some of her pretty things are displayed.
As bad luck would have it, in their climbing up, they knock her beautiful blue seashell off, and it shatters all over the floor.
The bear boys know they are going to be in big trouble. Hoping to head off Mama's ire, they quickly push off their little sailboat and head out to find an island with another beautiful blue seashell in hopes of replacing the broken one before she comes home.
But it's not so easy No sandy shell beaches are in sight. The three little bears hail a passing raft, but the ragged drifters haven't seen such a place. On a passing whaler christened The Melville, the sailors wave their harpoons, dismissing such a silly quest. Finally they cross wakes with a crusty Big Salty Bear who mumbles something about an island with a tall headland, a tree, and a cave, and says, with a cavalier wave of his mighty paw,
"JUST LOOK IN THE RIGHT PLACE."
The bears finally make landfall on the island, but their trudge all over yields nothing like a blue seashell. Obviously, this is not the right place. The three bears blame each other for getting them into this mess.
"WE'RE STUCK OUT HERE, JUST BECAUSE OF YOU!"
But their squabble is forgotten when an angry thunderstorm approaches and a rogue wave threatens to capsize their little boat.
When they recover from their fright, properly chastened, they admit that they are all to blame for breaking Mama's beautiful blue seashell. Nearly becalmed, they float at last up to their own island, with their little cottage blissfully in sight. And there, on their very own beach, is an even bigger, more beautiful blue seashell.
"SO THIS WAS THE RIGHT PLACE?"
There's no place like home for the three little penitents, and bearing their offering carefully, they carry the shell sheepishly up to Mama, standing at the door. What will Mama Bear say now?
David Soman's Three Bears in a Boat (Dial Books, 2014) offers a familiar tale of missing little miscreants and their return home. With illustrations reminiscent of Else Minarik's Little Bear (An I Can Read Book) and a story line not unlike that of the misbehaving little Max in Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, this one has the charm and style of a modern classic. Kirkus' writer points out that Soman tucks a couple of witty tongue-in-cheek allusions to Huck Finn and Moby Dick for grown-ups into the story, adding, "with watercolor seascapes so luminous that readers will want to jump in, this is a book to be treasured for years to come."