Based on a true story, Bear and Fred is the inspiring tale of the friendship between a young boy and his beloved teddy bear. During WWII, Fred, who is Jewish, has to leave his home and go into hiding apart from the rest of his family. But Bear never leaves his side, understanding that it's his job to comfort Fred during this difficult time so that he doesn't feel so alone. Eventually the war ends, Fred is reunited with his family, and they move to America. But Bear still remains with him throughout his life until one day, a museum asks if Fred would be willing to share Bear with the world to bring hope and inspiration to others.
Bear and Fred is a historical fiction book that's based on the true story of holocaust survivor, Fred Lessing. As a young boy, Fred had a beloved teddy bear that was with him everywhere he went. When the Nazis rose to power, his family had to go into hiding, but feeling it was too dangerous for them to hide together, his parents sent him away to stay, first with his grandfather in Amsterdam, and later with a woman he didn't previously know. Fred was very lonely during this time, but the one constant in his life was Bear in whom he took comfort. After the war ended, he was reunited with his family and they moved to America. Many years later, after hearing the inspiring story of Fred's bear, the curators of Yad Vashem, the World Holocuast Remembrance Center in Jerusalem asked Fred if he'd be willing to share Bear who became an exhibit at the museum.
Written from Bear's first-person perspective, Bear and Fred is a gentle way to introduce younger readers to the holocaust. Because Fred and his family managed to survive the war in hiding, it doesn't detail any of the horrors of WWII. It's mainly the story of a scared, lonely little boy whose teddy bear views it as his responsibility to take care of his young human, and how the special connection they shared continued throughout their lives. They were never separated until Fred (and Bear) agreed that Bear would go live at the museum where he's brought inspiration to others. While I did enjoy the story, I thought the subject matter should have lent itself well to creating a deep emotional connection with the reader, which I didn't entirely sense. The book was originally written in Hebrew, so it's possible something was lost in translation. Otherwise, though, this was a very sweet, tender story that I would definitely recommend for teaching young kids about WWII and the holocaust.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook