Three Bears in a Boat

Book review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Three Bears in a Boat Book Poster Image
Gorgeous illustrations buoy book about bears and teamwork.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Some exposure to sailing the open sea, but Three Bears in a Boat is meant to entertain more than educate.

Positive Messages

Three Bears in a Boat offers positive messages about teamwork, admitting mistakes, trying to fix them, and forgiveness.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are simple but well-intentioned. Parents are engaged when present.

Violence & Scariness

Minor peril when the bears sail the open sea and meet rough waves and lightning, though no one's injured.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that David Soman's Three Bears in a Boat tells the story of three sibling bears who sail the open sea to find and replace their mother's beloved blue seashell. There's minor peril when the bears are tossed about in a sea storm, but no one's harmed. It's ultimately a positive book about fixing mistakes and working together, from the same illustrator of the Ladybug Girl series, here writing and illustrating on his own for the first time.

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What's the story?

When Charlie, Theo, and Dash break their mother's favorite blue seashell, they decide to replace it. Off they sail to look high and low for the perfect substitute, only to discover it's not that easy to make their mistake go away.

Is it any good?

THREE BEARS IN A BOAT tells a simple story about trying to fix a mistake, but the easy pace and gentle sweetness of the disposition make this is a terrific read. There's a little minor peril when the bears are on their own on the rough seas, but no one's injured and the distress is used to show that it's better to work together and take responsibility than quarrel to solve a problem or try to cover it up.

Most striking are the gorgeously rendered watercolor illustrations, recognizable to fans of the Ladybug Girl series, which give the book an old-fashioned, sea-swept appeal. Kids will enjoy these seafaring bear adventures, and parents will appreciate the positive lessons and sweetness of the aesthetics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about admitting mistakes. Have you ever made a mistake or broken something? What did you do? Did you tell mom or dad? What happened?

  • The book says the bears are "in the same boat." What does it mean to say we are all in the same boat?

  • Why do you think the bears can't find the seashell they're looking for? Where do they find it?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and animal stories

Themes & Topics

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