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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Pirate Billy-Bear, written by Charly Froh and illustrated by Zuzana Svobodová, begins in the Emerald Kingdom, home to the fluffy-puffy pirate bears. Captain Billy-Bear the Brave was initially afraid of everything, particularly boats, rain, darkness, and the unknown. Despite his friends' efforts to coax him into embracing the pirate life, he staunchly refused, preferring the comfort of dry land. However, during a stormy night, when he heard his friend Trolly the Troll in distress, he overcame his fears and embarked on a rescue mission. He untangled knots, lifted anchors, and sailed into the darkness, ultimately saving Trolly. This act of courage earned him the title of Captain Billy-Bear the Brave, and he realized that facing his fears had led him to newfound adventures, hidden treasures, and the thrill of the unknown.
There is so much to love about Pirate Billy-Bear, but the best place to start is with Charly Froh's dreamy and fantastical settings, featuring the Emerald Kingdom, the Diamond Ocean, and Treasure Town. The vibrant descriptions of the ocean, storms, and magical creatures add a whimsical touch to the narrative and are matched perfectly with the full color and gorgeously depicted illustrations by Zuzana Svobodová, which breathe life into the whole story. The positive themes about facing one's fears and embracing new experiences, and the importance of bravery and selflessness, send a truly uplifting message to young readers about the rewards of courage. My youngest reader absolutely adored the language, from "bubbly-bobbly-wobble" to "drip-drop droplets of water," the latter of which came out during bath time over the next week. Overall, this is a wonderful book and a real pleasure to have in the nightly bedtime rotation. Very highly recommended.