Otto: The Auto­bi­og­ra­phy of a Ted­dy Bear

Tomi Unger­er
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
Otto (a reprint orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in 1999) is a ted­dy bear made in Ger­many cir­ca 1930’s. David, a Jew­ish boy receives Otto as a birth­day gift. When sol­diers in black leather coats come to take David and his fam­i­ly away, David gives Otto to his best friend Oskar. Oskar los­es Otto when his street is bombed. An Amer­i­can sol­dier picks Otto out of the rub­ble moments before he is wound­ed. Brought to the States by the Amer­i­can sol­dier as a gift for his daugh­ter, Otto is grabbed by ruf­fi­ans and thrown into the trash from where he is picked out by an old woman wear­ing a bag­gy sweater fas­tened by a string. The woman sells Otto to an antique shop. Oskar pur­chas­es Otto and through a news­pa­per sto­ry the three friends, Otto, Oskar, and David are reunit­ed. Otto is a well-writ­ten, deeply affect­ing and poignant book. The real­is­tic, graph­ic water col­or illus­tra­tions of wound­ed and dead sol­diers will fright­en young chil­dren, so the book is most appro­pri­ate for ages 10 and up or the age at which chil­dren begin to learn about the hor­rors of World War II. A thought-pro­vok­ing illus­trat­ed book deal­ing with war and the Holo­caust that spares lit­tle in the depic­tion of those ter­ri­ble times.
Ilka Gor­don has a Mas­ters in Edu­ca­tion from Boston Uni­ver­si­ty and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State Uni­ver­si­ty. She is a librar­i­an at Sie­gal Col­lege of Juda­ic Stud­ies in Cleveland.

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