Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
“We might be different, but that’s what makes our friendship so exciting. We can learn from each other.” Clyde’s words are so true and introduce readers to Four Bears in a Box: Back to the Beach by Dreama Denver. He’s the oldest of four bears; the others, Sadie, Dee, and Boo, love to join Clyde on adventures. They’ve just woken up from their long winter’s nap – it’s called hibernation. Now they’re raring to explore some more in their magical box. This time they’re headed back to the beach on the island where the kind man in the red shirt lived. Instead of finding Giggle-in (that’s what the other critters on the island call him), they meet new friends: King Crab and Lovey Turtle. It’s a learning adventure, one that’s full of imagination, diversification, and empathy.
Dreama Denver’s picture book, Four Bears in a Box: Back to the Beach, is full of fun and imagination – just what you want in a read-along bedtime story. The language is simple, so young readers can learn to follow it. The plot follows the four bears' journey back to the beach and the new friends they meet. The dialogue is entertaining and engaging and the illustrations are superb. There are some tender, touching moments as the four young bears interact with each other and their new friends. They learn from one another, just as young readers will also learn from this story. Although this is not an environmental story, there is some suggestion of the need to care for our planet as King Crab explains the purpose of his front legs (or pincers): “I can free them [his sea friends] from plastic and other floating dangers.” A clever insert on the dangers of single-use plastics. This is a delightful little story full of imaginary fantastical adventures.