Bear and Fred: A World War II Story

Amazon/Two Lions. Mar. 2020. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781542018210.
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.

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