Outside in World | Browse Books
Use our Book Finder to search for books by Title (or part of the title), Author, ISBN, Age Range, Keyword, or Continent/Country. Then simply click the magnifying glass to start your search.
‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Bear and Fred: A World War II Story
by Iris Argaman
Age Range: 6-8
Fred, a young Dutch boy lives in Delft in Holland with his parents, brothers and the narrator, his beloved teddy bear. Fred and Bear are inseparable and when the Second World War engulfs the Netherlands Fred is taken to Amsterdam to stay with his grandfather and Bear goes to. One morning Fred wakes up to find his grandfather sewing a yellow star onto his coat and when he goes outside to play with his friends he discovers they also have yellow stars. However, when his mother visits she is angry ripping the star off Fred’s coat despite his grandfather telling her it would be much more dangerous to be without it. Fred is then taken to live with a ‘nice lady’ where he must stay indoors and out of sight until he can be with his family again.
Although Fred is separated from the rest of his family he always keeps Bear close by his side. Bear knows he must take care of Fred and also make sure he doesn’t feel alone. After the war, Fred and Bear are reunited with the family and they leave the Netherlands for the United States.
Israeli author Iris Argaman has written a beautiful and moving story, based on true events which is seamlessly translated from Hebrew by Annette Appel. Argaman explains at the back of the book in the author’s note how she came to write the story after seeing the bear at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre, located in Israel which prompted her to contact the owner Fred Lessing now living in the USA.
Bear and Fred has a similar impact to Tomi Ungerer’s Otto, also about a bear who narrates his survival of World War II. By allowing Bear to be the narrator and an observer of the war and life in occupied Holland Argaman is able to present the impact on the family which allows young readers to gain some understanding of what life was like for Jewish families.
The flowing pen and ink line drawings by Israeli illustrator Avi Ofe with their simple watercolour palette lends an atmosphere and poignancy which enhances the story. This is often conveyed in the facial expressions and body language as well as the background illustrations that provide almost a separate narrative – a faint outline of a map of France in grey surrounding the worried parents as they are warned by a friend that in a few minutes they will be forced to leave their home or a fallen yellow star on an Arabic text with an empty chair. This powerful evocative imagery works so well with Argaman’s concise text.