The Bear's Sea Escape

Book review by
Joanna H. Kraus, Common Sense Media
The Bear's Sea Escape Book Poster Image
Detailed art is best part of lost-cub fantasy adventure.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers and listeners can pore over the illustrations searching for Papa Bear and Little Bear as well as figuring out what's happening in complex illustrated scenes, from an elaborate department store to the city, a train station, a cruise ship, and a jungle. 

Positive Messages

There's great affection between the two bears. No adventure is more important than being together.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Papa Bear never gives up, going far across the sea to search for the lost Little Bear. Near the end, Little Bear trumpets a lullaby that Papa Bear will love, drawing him to the warm place he's found for the two of them to hibernate.

Violence & Scariness

Being lost could be scary, but Little Bear seems to be having quite an adventure. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that French author-illustrator Benjamin Chaud's The Bear's Sea Escape ​(a translation of Coquillages et Petit Ours, published in France in 2012) follows his acclaimed The  Bear's Song. As in the first book, Papa Bear gets spearated from Little Bear and journeys far and wide -- this time even underwater -- to find him. While this fantasy adventure is not quite as engaging as its predecessor, the richly detailed illustrations are still delightful. 

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What's the story?

In the midst of a city winter snowstorm, Papa Bear and Little Bear rush to find a place to hibernate. Inside an elaborate department store, they think they've found it. But a boy happily goes off with Little Bear thinking he's a toy. When Papa Bear wakes, he frantically searches the the city, the train station, a cruise ship, and a jungle. Finally, the two are reunited.

Is it any good?

In THE BEAR'S SEA ESCAPE Benjamin Chaud's inimitable illustrations are fanciful and extraordinarily rich in detail. However, the the content is not as smoothly plotted nor the text as smoothly written as in The Bear's Song. Nor does it have the same sweet appeal. Although the message of affection between the two bears is clear, and it's obviously a fantasy, questions are raised that strain credibility. How does a boy walk off with a live bear in a busy department store and confuse it with a toy? How can Papa Bear swim in the sea underwater? Although Little Bear presumably wants a place to hibernate, he also pursues an international adventure without a thought for his worried Papa until he finally summons him with a tune.

While the story is not as well done as is The Bear's Song, the illustrations are equally vibrant and delightful.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why animal characters are often used in picture books. Why do animals have so much appeal in media for young audiences?

  • Is Little Bear lost or having an incredible adventure? What makes him finally trumpet a tune that will help Papa Bear find him?

  • Have you ever wanted to go on a fantastic adventure like Little Bear? Where would you go and how would you travel?

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