Cover image for Bear and Fred : A World War II Story
Bear and Fred : A World War II Story
Reading Level:
600 L Lexile

On Order

R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
Hardwood Creek Library (Forest Lake)1On Order
Park Grove Library (Cottage Grove)1On Order



The true story of a Jewish boy in hiding during World War II, as told by his teddy bear.

I felt Fred's small hand grab me.

He patted me and whispered,

"Bear, I won't leave you here all by yourself.

You are my best friend."

Based on true events and beautifully illustrated, this is the story of a friendship that will last forever--told by Fred's best friend, his beloved teddy bear.

During World War II, Fred must leave his home and live in hiding, apart from the rest of his family, but he always keeps Bear by his side. Bear knows it's his job to take care of Fred and make sure he doesn't feel alone.

After the war, Fred and his family are reunited and leave Holland for the United States. And still Bear is with him. When Fred grows up, he and Bear part for the first time when Bear is sent to Yad Vashem--the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Israel, where this book was first published--to show the power of hope, friendship, and love.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3--6--Based on true events during World War II, this is the story of a boy named Fred who lives in war-stricken Holland with his faithful companion, Bear. As Fred's family discusses places to hide, it is decided that Fred will live with his grandfather. Life at grandpa's is not too bad. Fred gets to play with other children, all of whom have a yellow star on their clothing. Told in first-person narrative style, Bear recounts Fred's life as he moves from his grandpa's home to the house of a stranger his mother just met and, later on, to the time Fred rejoins his family when the war is over. One aspect remains constant: Bear is always at Fred's side. The book contains a prologue and an epilogue wherein Bear tells of his arrival to Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. The illustrations, combining pencil sketches with more detailed drawings, complement the extensive narrative using light blue, mustard yellow, and a soft palette that sets the mood of the story as the pages progress. The front matter contains a historical note, and the back matter contains a letter from Bear and a note from the author. VERDICT A thoughtful picture book for older elementary children that could be used in a history lesson covering Jewish families during World War II, and for readers with a love of history and war stories.--Kathia Ibacache, Simi Valley Public Library, CA

Horn Book Review

A teddy bear on display in Yad Vashem, Israels Holocaust museum, narrates this picture book based on a true story from the Holocaust. The stuffed bear recalls his journey with young owner Fred from their home in Delft, Holland, to Freds grandfathers house in Amsterdamthe family has been warned that people would come and force us to leaveand eventually to a strangers home for the duration of the war. Short lines of text are surrounded by plenty of white space. The loose-lined, digital illustrations are similarly spare, though the light brown of the visibly well-loved Bear and the yellow of the stars sewn onto Jewish characters clothing stand out. That the events are seen through innocent eyes allows for the posing of basic questions: Why did we have to hide? and Why couldnt [Fred] tell anyone who he was? Did he do something bad? A historical note at the front provides more specific information about the Holocaust, making the book useful as a discussion starter for those new to this part of history. Back matter includes an authors note and a letter from Freds Bear (complete with photo), establishing both title characters as real figures. Shoshana Flax March/April 2020 p.51(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A bear and his boy survive the Holocaust.A stuffed bear tells the story of his life with a young Dutch Jewish boy as World War II engulfs the Netherlands. The bear's words are never maudlin or precious. Rather, he is an observer with keen eyes and ears and a loving heart. Fred, the boy, lives with his parents and brothers in Delft but is then taken to Amsterdam to stay with his grandfather. Fred is warned to keep silent about his family. After Grandpa sews a yellow star onto Fred's coat, Mama returns, rips off the star, and takes Fred to live with a "nice lady." The war ends, and Fred and his family are all happily united. In her author's note, Argaman describes how she saw the bear at Yad Vashem, Israels Holocaust museum, and exchanged letters with Fred Lessing, now living in America, because she wanted to share the story. Translated from Hebrew, it reads seamlessly and beautifully presents a family caught up in war as seen from the perspective of a caring but historically nave eyewitness. Without in any manner diminishing the actual horrors of World War II or any current fighting, the author enables a child to grasp in some small manner the impact of conflict on a family. Loose-lined, simply colored illustrations focus attention on the titular characters. Moving and accessible. (author's note, photograph) (Picture book. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.