BENNO’S BEAR by N.F. Zucker


Age Range: 10 - 13
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In this debut, a young pickpocket gets caught and must deal with the consequences, good as well as bad. Benno’s father has trained the boy to steal while the father plays the concertina and their trained bear dances. It’s a hard, poor life, but Benno finds joy with his Bear, who has been with them since he was a cub. After they are caught, Benno’s father is sentenced to seven months in prison and Bear is sent to the city zoo, while, surprisingly, a compassionate police officer takes Benno home. Despite the kindness of the policeman and his wife, and the prosperity of their home, Benno longs to leave to rescue Bear, which he attempts. The book concludes tidily with Bear where he belongs, and Benno reunited with his father but still in close contact with the policeman and his warm-hearted wife. The unspecified setting, which resembles an Eastern European country a few hundred years ago, remains a vague background for the action. Benno, who narrates the story, is the only fully developed character, while others play the roles of abusive father, kindly childless couple, mean old schoolteacher, and so on, almost like the fairy tale characters that Benno loves to read about. Still, Benno’s relationship with Bear will intrigue readers, and the plot offers enough suspense and action to keep readers interested until the sentimental final paragraphs. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-46521-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001