Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear by Tomi Ungerer, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear

Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear

by Tomi Ungerer
     
 

This is an autobiographical tale of a teddy bear named Otto. Otto is a German-born teddy bear. His first memories are of being stitched together and being given to David, a Jewish boy living in Germany before WWII. David and his best-friend Oskar always play with Otto, using him for pranks, games and even teaching him to type on a typewriter. Life is a lot of fun

Overview

This is an autobiographical tale of a teddy bear named Otto. Otto is a German-born teddy bear. His first memories are of being stitched together and being given to David, a Jewish boy living in Germany before WWII. David and his best-friend Oskar always play with Otto, using him for pranks, games and even teaching him to type on a typewriter. Life is a lot of fun for the Otto. However, one day, David starts to wear a yellow star on his jacket. He and his parents are soon carted away by men in leather coats and uniforms. David decides to give his dear teddy bear to Oskar. Many lonely days pass for Oskar and Otto. But even gloomier days soon arrive when Osakar's father is drafted into the army and the bombings start. One day, a sudden explosion sends Otto flying through the air and into the middle a raging battle-field. The teddy bear is spotted by a soldier, but the moment the soldier picks Otto up, they are both shot through the chest. Otto and the soldier, an American G.I., are taken away to a hospital. In hospital, the soldier keeps Otto by his side. When he recovers, he pins a medal on Otto's chest, saying that Otto saved his life, taking the brunt of the bullet. The story makes papers and Otto becomes a mascot of the soldier's regiment. The teddy bear is then taken to America and is given to a sweet girl called Jasmin, the soldier's daughter. But Otto's new home and happiness is once again brutally ended when he is snatched away by mean and violent street urchins, who hit and trample on him and throw him into a bin. Otto is then picked up by an antiques dealer and taken to his shop. Years and years go by, until one rainy evening, when a bulky man stops and carefully examines the shop window. The man recognizes the bear instantly buys him. It is Oskar, Otto's old friend. The story of Oskar, a German tourist and survivor of the war finding his teddy bear in America soon makes the papers. And the day after Otto's picture appears in the paper, Oskar's telephone rings: it is his old friend David. And so, the three friends finally reunite, sharing the sorrows and pains of war and living a peaceful and happy life together. Otto now keeps himself busy, typing the story of his life on David's typewriter. Children will become attached to this loving, innocent protagonist, and will naturally be interested in his life story. Tomi Ungerer deals with one of the darkest chapters of history and pulls off the challenge admirably. This tale will prompt reflection and important questions without causing undue fear.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Teddy bear narrator Otto belongs to David, a Jewish boy living in Germany; their world of games and pranks with David's friend Oskar turns dark when David and his parents are taken away (at which point he gives Otto to Oskar), and Oskar's father leaves for the front. In the chaos of bombing raids, Otto is found by a G.I., who is shot seconds later ("Look at him!" Charlie the G.I. later tells hospital nurses. "Believe it or not this teddy bear saved my life"). Years later in the U.S., Oskar rediscovers Otto in an antique store and, after their picture appears in the newspaper, David finds them, too. "Since our happy reunion I have kept myself busy pounding out this story on my typewriter," says Otto, shown in front of a typewriter, burning buildings floating in his memory behind him. Ungerer's illustrations--expressive, carefully worked paintings quite different from his previous books--present some potentially scary images; parents and teachers should prepare for questions. But Otto's tranquil voice allows Ungerer to tell his story at a safe remove, and his unvarnished honesty makes this a vital account. Ages 8–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"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)"—Kirkus Review
School Library Journal
Gr 1–4—A teddy bear recounts his creation in Germany before World War II, his arrival as a birthday present for a young Jewish boy, and his time with David and David's friend, Oskar. When authorities force David to wear a yellow star and transport him and others away, Otto stays behind with Oskar. An African-American G.I. finds the bear after a bomb blast, a bullet hits them both, and because the bear absorbs the brunt of the blast, he saves the soldier's life. Otto becomes the playmate of the soldier's daughter until he is mauled by street boys, lands in a garbage pail, and eventually in an antique shop. From there the story takes an even more surprising and satisfying twist as Otto is reunited with his childhood friends. Ungerer's large watercolors become dark and shadow-filled as the Jews are taken away, people hide in bomb shelters, and bombs explode in the city. In a particularly realistic spread, one soldier lies slumped over a tank in the distance while, in the foreground, readers see a prostrate soldier clutching his bleeding chest, another one trapped under rubble, and a bodiless outstretched arm. While the book touches on some difficult subjects, the story is told from the point of view of the bear, which makes discussion a bit easier for younger children. Otto appears scarred and battle-worn on the cover but is a survivor nonetheless, and his telling is matter-of-fact and unsentimental. A poignant and uplifting story.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
Kirkus Reviews

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780714857664
Publisher:
Phaidon Press
Publication date:
10/20/2010
Pages:
36
Sales rank:
628,309
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Born in Strasbourg, in the Alsace region of France, in 1931, Tomi Ungerer started drawing as a small boy. Growing up in Nazi-occupied Strasbourg, drawing caricatures was for him a form of resistance. He published his first book for children, The Mellops Go Flying, in 1957, and went on to publish 80 books over the next ten years, covering all aspects of his work. Ungerer has said while many people can see only good and evil, he is particularly interested in the no-man's land between the two, as this is the most interesting place, where lessons can be learned. In the 26 books for children due to be published by Phaidon, Ungerer covers themes such as prejudice, poverty and the holocaust, but his fantastic repertoire also includes such charming animals as Adelaide, the flying kangaroo, and Orlando, the courageous vulture. With his books, Ungerer wants to inspire children's curiosity and imagination, but also to let them know that it's OK to have problems, because you can find the courage to fight them - among the many aphorisms and mottoes he coins and collects, his favorite is 'Don't hope, cope!'An internationally renowned artist and a superlative storyteller, Ungerer has received numerous awards for his work, including the Erich Kästner Prize for literature in 2003, the Hans Christian Andersen Award for illustration in 1998, and the Jakob Burckhardt prize of the Goethe-Stiftung, Basel in 1983. In 1992, the American Bibliographic Institute named him one of 500 'World Leaders of Influence', and in the same year, he was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, for his contribution to cultural exchange and communication between France and Germany. The Council of Europe in Strasbourg named him an ambassador for children and education in 2000, and in 2002 Jack Lang, then French minister of education, named him an Officier de la Légion d'Honneur.

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