The Bear Who Sailed the Ocean in an Iceberg Blog Tour: Guest Post and Review

Hello everybody! Today, I’m delighted to be part of the blog tour for Emily Critchley’s new book the Bear Who Sailed the Ocean in an Iceberg, with both my review and a guest post from the author. Onto the post!


I haven’t read Emily’s debut, so I wasn’t very sure what to expect from this, but when an email about it landed in my inbox, I was so intrigued by the title that I just had to sign up to be part of this blog tour! It’s about a boy named Patrick who discovers a talking polar bear is living in his garage, after the iceberg he was sailing on melted and he landed in the UK, and his attempts to keep Monty hidden and fed, while also dealing with a horrible bully and trying to look after his mum, who is struggling with the death of his baby sister.

Needless to say, poor Patrick has loads going on! I thought he was such a lovely character with such a kind heart and I felt so much sympathy for him, so I loved the fact that Monty had a positive impact on his life. Monty is a brilliant character in his own right, too, he made me laugh loads and his love of quoting literary figures was very endearing. My other favourites were Mr Crankly, who snuck in and stole my heart right at the very end (and who even made me cry!!), and also Sammy, who was such a fantastic friend. I definitely didn’t like Jake, but I did find his portrayal interesting as it delves into the idea that hurt people hurt people. Although I have to admit that Lily finding out about his behaviour was one of my favourite scenes! She’s a queen. I think the way the book touches on topical, relevant themes is great too.

There are lots of references to things like the NHS being so strained and the climate crisis, but it also delves into grief and bereavement, mental illness and of course bullying. Everything felt really sensitively handled, and although I did tear up several times, I think the humour and joy throughout this is also really wonderful. It made me that I just didn’t want to put this book down.

And now, Emily’s wonderful piece about common themes in her work!

Common Themes by Emily Critchley

My latest book, The Bear Who Sailed the Ocean on an Iceberg, is my first novel for 9-12s but my second for young people. Notes on My Family, for readers 13+, was published in 2017. My first novel features a thirteen-year-old girl whose parents are divorcing, who is very much an outsider at school, yet through a new friendship she finds the courage to be herself. 

In my latest novel, twelve-year-old Patrick finds a polar bear in his parents’ garage. Who is Monty? Where has he come from? Why does he quote Oscar Wilde and, most worryingly of all, why is always hungry? Patrick must find a way of concealing Monty and getting him back to Greenland before Monty is discovered. If coping with a resident polar bear and devising a plan to get him home isn’t enough: Patrick is being bullied at school, his mum is suffering from depression as a result of a recent bereavement and he’s having to take care of her whilst his Dad is away for work.

Now I’m no longer in the middle of writing The Bear, I am able to look at it more objectively and see some of its themes. What surprised me, is that although I initially thought I was writing a very different book to my first (a younger age category, a talking bear, a male central character as opposed to female) I realised that in fact, the themes of the books are very similar. Both present a family in crisis, both have themes of friendship and of finding your place in the world, both explore mental health issues, and both feature characters who are being bullied at school. 

I have heard it said that writers continually mow the same patch of grass only in different directions. You can often recognise common themes and preoccupations in the work of your favourite authors. I know this and yet I’d never applied it to myself. Although I don’t believe I have a big enough body of work (yet!) to look for similarities and reoccurring subject matter, realising that my two books do contain the same themes has helped to understand what issues are close to my heart and what I enjoy writing about. The acceptance of difference, how having one good friend can change everything, mental health and bullying are all subjects that I can see are based on my own life experiences. No one wants a story to be preachy but at the same time a book must be about something. A story is a sequence of events and it’s how your character deals with those events that shows us, subtly, who they are and what they have learned. 

Do you recognise any common themes in the books of your favourite authors? Or what about in your own writing? Perhaps make a list of what’s important to you, what you firmly believe in and of your most important life experiences. This can be a good way of thinking about theme and getting to the heart of a story. And if you take a closer look at your own work you may find your stories aren’t so different after all! 

THE BEAR WHO SAILED WHO SAILED THE OCEAN ON AN ICEBERG by Emily Critchley is out now in paperback (£7.99, Everything with Words)

Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyMCritchley and Instagram @emily.critchley and find out more at and 

Thank you so much for reading! Do you find that common themes pop up in the books you read? What are they? Have you read this book/is it on your TBR? I’d really love to hear in the comments!

Amy x


Author: goldenbooksgirl

Disabled book blogger who also writes TV, film, music and other posts from time to time | UKYABA Champion Teen 2018 | Email: | she/her

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