Saturday 13 November 2021

The Bear Who Sailed The Ocean on An Iceberg by Emily Critchley and Holly Ovenden (Children's, 9 years +, 9/10E)


October 2021, Everything With Words, 288 pages, Paperback, Review copy 


Summary from Everything With Words

 From a Carnegie nominated author, a brilliantly funny and touching story about a lonely boy who finds a polar bear in his parents’ freezer. How did Monty get there? And who is Monty? Official name, Wilbur Ambrose Cedric Reginald Montague, the Third; Monty to his friends. A huge polar bear who talks like he might have swallowed a dictionary as well as a library — he has read more books than Patrick knew existed —and whose stomach is always rumbling. ALWAYS. But how is Patrick going to feed him on his pocket money that does not stretch much further than a few tins of sardines? And how to protect him from neighbours like Mr. Crankly who might report him? And if that isn’t enough, Patrick is really taking care of his mum who suffers from depression, and his dad isn’t there. But there is always Monty.

Nayu's thoughts 

Living with a parent who is depressed isn't easy for Patrick, and the root of his mother's depression is sadly common, but life gets infinitely harder for Patrick when he discovers Monty the polar bear in his garage. Monty takes residence in the freezer, constantly chips away at Patrick's limited funds as he tries to keep on top of Monty's giant appetite with great fears at first of Monty eating him, then the shops running out of affordable food. His father isn't home for most of the tale, but Patrick has to get inventive on how to stop his mother from going to the garage. Additionally he has to deal with being bullied at school and having an extremely nosy neighbour investigating the strange goings ons that all point to Monty's existence. 

Monty does not like being cooped up in the garage. He likes roaming around Patrick's home at night, and Patrick suffers several scares when Monty almost gets discovered by his mum and his neighbour but his quick thinking helps keep Monty safe. Monty doesn't seem too bothered by how risky his actions are, most of the worrying is done by Patrick who had enough to contend with before Monty. However Monty becomes a friend - once Patrick realises Monty won't eat him despite being rather huge and menacing looking. In fact Monty provides companionship when Patrick needs it the most, apart from the time life gets too much for Patrick and he is kind of mean to Monty and his school friends.

The issues of grief, depression and bullying are fully explored in the story. There is a fair amount of humour which helps the situation seem less bleak than it can feel for Patrick. The end had me crying because it is so lovely. It would have been nice to have witnessed some of Monty's journey on an iceberg: he does recount it a little to Patrick, and how he leaves is fully experienced. Patrick's life issues all get resolved which was pleasant to see, and I hope he has more adventures either from Monty returning or a different animal coming to visit (because I'm quite sure Monty will tell his adventure to all who he sees). I'm looking forward to rereading it one day for sure.

Find out more on author Emily's website and illustrator Holly's website.

Suggested read 

If you love humour and chaos check out The Rabbit Ate My Flipflops by Rachel Elizabeth Cole (Children's, 9 years +, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review) 


No comments: