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OTTO by Tomi Ungerer


The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear

by Tomi Ungerer & illustrated by Tomi Ungerer

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 0714857661
Publisher: Phaidon

The first broad release of a title originally published regionally and overseas in 1999, this simply told, deeply affecting tale follows a teddy’s passage from hand to hand through war and other troubles. First given to David, a German child who passes it to his close friend Oskar when he and his Jewish family are taken away, the bear is picked from a pile of bomb rubble by an African-American GI. In the States it becomes a girl’s prized companion until snatched by neighborhood ruffians and cast into the trash. Rescued, it then spends many years in the window of an antiques store until a passerby—none other than a now-elderly Oskar—recognizes a distinctive ink stain on its head and rushes in to buy it. This sparks a newspaper story, which leads to a stunning phone call and the joyful reunion of bear, Oskar and David. Subtle changes of facial expression in Ungerer’s watercolor art give the bear—stained, battered and with a clumsily repaired bullet hole—plenty of character, and there’s nary a trace of sentimentality in the matter-of-fact narrative. (Picture book. 6-8)