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26 February 2008 @ 06:53 am
TUNES FOR BEARS TO DANCE TO by Robert Cormier (4 stars)  
With the troops from WWII just reentering the job market, eleven-year-old Henry Cassavant is lucky to work at the Corner Market owned by Mr. Hairston. Even if his boss is a bigot.

Henry's family is going through hard times. His brother recently died, and his family's moved to a new town to work through the grieving process. His mother is working multiple jobs to help pay the bills. His father is hit the hardest, falling into a deep depression that sends him to "the hospital across town" for help.

Through simple curiosity, Henry befriends the elderly Mr. Levine, a Holocaust survivor who lives in the "Crazy House" next door to Henry's family. His friendship with the old man, contrasted with the racism of his boss, makes for a crazy end to the story.

Don't let this novel's length deceive you...TUNES FOR BEARS TO DANCE TO is a short, powerful little read that tackles the deep topics of racism, depression, and child abuse. Henry's story will no doubt leave readers thinking and wondering: What would we do in the same situation? What does it mean to be a good person? How far would we go to make ends meet?

With cutthroat tension, Robert Cormier reminds us all that sometimes the greatest evils lurk in the most familiar of places. Sometimes, they're inside ourselves.

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Cana Rensbergercandycana on February 27th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
I read this book a couple of years ago and recommended it to a 8th grade language arts teacher to use in her classroom. They do a unit on the Holocaust. She didn't care for the book. What? How could she not? I, like you, thought it was amazing. It's an emotionally gripping story. I still remember the climactic conflict in the book and cringe. It's a terrific book!

Maybe it just didn't fit the emphasis on the Holocaust that she was trying to teach. I don't know. Her loss. I shared it with as many students who would read it.