“Once upon a time, in a faraway land
called Holland, in a city called Delft, I was Fred’s teddy bear.” Thus begins
the tale of a teddy bear who was Fred’s best friend. Fred was a little Jewish
boy who had to leave his home and his parents, and live in hiding during the
Second World War.
The story is told from the point of
view of Bear who doesn’t quite grasp what is going on. But he senses that
something bad is happening and is scared that Fred will forget him. But Fred
never parts from his only friend. First, they go to Grandpa in Amsterdam, where
Fred is warned not to tell anyone who he is. Bear doesn’t get it: Has Fred
done something wrong? And what is the yellow star that Grandpa has sewn onto
his friend’s coat? And then, living with Grandpa also becomes dangerous, and
Fred is given to a strange family. He hides out with them until the war is
over, and all this time Bear makes sure to look after him. The two do not part
even after Fred is reunited with his family and the world isn’t a scary place
This is the true story of Fred
Lessing, who moved with his family to the USA after the war. Even after he grew
up and had his own family, he kept Bear as a reminder of what he had been
through. Many years later he gave him to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in
Jerusalem, so that other children could learn about their story.
llustrations: Avi Ofer
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
Nowadays, it is worthwhile to devote a
moment to thinking about the ways in which it us possible – and necessary – to
speak to really small children about the Holocaust and about the Second World
War. Bear and Fred succeeds in clearing a safe path for such a dialogue,
one in which there is historical truth, fact, but also tenderness and
compassion, love and hope.
Miriam Kutz, Yedioth
The author has been in touch with Fred
Lessing and received his permission to write his story. The result is superb.
There are no horror stories in the book and it is perfectly suitable for small
children in pre-school or the early grades of elementary school.
Bear and Fred is first of all a sensitive tale about the
unusual relationship between a teddy bear and Fred, the little boy who plays
with him … The teddy bear’s point of view enables a delicate and screened recounting
of the events … Iris Argaman, a gifted writer and poet, is offering a magical,
lyrical story. This is the place to mention the contribution of the original
illustrations to the understanding of the text and the clever use of gray figures
for wartime and illuminated figures for what follows, as well as the complex
expressions of the characters, who are drawn with a sensitivity appropriate to
the text. The story shows its readers that although a great work of art is made
out of pain, it is capable of filling the readers with joy and hope. There’s no
doubt that Bear and Fred is going to win a place of honor on the
Shai Rudin, Kriat Chova
book is wonderful and exciting, and so are the illustrations!
Author Shlomit Cohen-Assif
This is a wondrous lyrical tale, brimming over with faithfulness and love … Iris Argaman is a creator of high quality. Here writing is lyrical, poetic, full of feeling, but she never spills over into sentimentality. In this book she has also succeeded in conveying a sense of isolation, pain and fear, without overloading the tender souls of her readers. The illustrations by Avi Ofer are very sensitive.
Naomi Ben-Gur, www.smkb.ac.il