Skip to main content

Tunes for Bears to Dance To

Review

Tunes for Bears to Dance To

Henry is only 11 years old, but he already knows what hard work and deprivation are. His broken leg is keeping him from his job at the grocery store so that he is unable to help his family. He also knows about sorrow. His older brother Eddie, so much a part of his life, dies at the hands of a hit-and-run driver. He knows about grief so deep that it can't be healed, as his father, unable to come to grips with Eddie's death, no longer works and has to be admitted to a hospital for therapy. 

After he and his family move from Frenchtown to escape the memories of Eddie, Henry makes friends with Mr. Levine, an elderly survivor of the Holocaust. Mr. Levine spends his days carving a miniature replica of his childhood village that was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II for which he wins an award. It is to be displayed under glass for the whole city to see.

Henry wants to purchase a gravestone for Eddie's grave, one with a baseball bat, ball, and glove carved on it. Mr. Hairston, Henry's employer, appears to be the answer to Henry's desire. However, what price will he exact for this supposed act of kindness? As Henry sinks more and more into the horror of his situation, he knows he has to make a decision and make it fast. Will he betray his friends at the Center to keep his job, or will he stand up to Mr. Hairston? The decision he makes will affect the rest of his life. 

Once again, Robert Cormier has explored what it is like to be an innocent child in a world of evil adults with their own agendas. Cormier says, "Evil doesn't come out of a cave at night --- it wears the bland face of the man who belongs to the Rotary Club, or the grocer, like in TUNES FOR BEARS TO DANCE TO."

TUNES FOR BEARS TO DANCE TO is a novel about survival, control, and racism after the Holocaust. It is also a story of pure goodness versus the abuse of authority and power, and Henry's battle against unspeakable evil.

Reviewed by Audrey Marie Danielson on April 1, 1994

Tunes for Bears to Dance To
by Robert Cormier

  • Publication Date: April 1, 1994
  • Mass Market Paperback: 101 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf
  • ISBN-10: 0440219035
  • ISBN-13: 9780440219033