Tunes for Bears to Dance To

( 27 )

Overview

A masterful portrayal of hatred, prejudice and manipulation that challenges readers to examine how they would behave in the face of evil. Henry meets and befriends Mr. Levine, an elderly Holocaust survivor, who is carving a replica of the village where he lived and which was destroyed in the war. Henry's friendship with Mr. Levine is put to the test when his prejudiced boss, Mr. Hairston, asks Henry to destroy Mr. Levine's village.

Eleven-year-old Henry escapes his ...

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Overview

A masterful portrayal of hatred, prejudice and manipulation that challenges readers to examine how they would behave in the face of evil. Henry meets and befriends Mr. Levine, an elderly Holocaust survivor, who is carving a replica of the village where he lived and which was destroyed in the war. Henry's friendship with Mr. Levine is put to the test when his prejudiced boss, Mr. Hairston, asks Henry to destroy Mr. Levine's village.

Eleven-year-old Henry escapes his family's problems by watching the woodcarving of Mr. Levine, an elderly Holocaust survivor, but when Henry is manipulated into betraying his friend he comes to know true evil.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[The book] will make fascinating material for group discussion."—School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Numb and lonely after his brother's death, Henry is befriended by a bigoted new employer, who attempts to involve the boy in an act of cruelty against a Holocaust survivor. Ages 12-up. May
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-- This brief, compelling book conveys the devastating effects of evil, whether its form is as huge and incomprehensible as the Holocaust, or as small and personal as another human being. Henry, a young teenager, is lucky to be employed. Since his brother's re cent death, his father is paralyzed by depres sion; his mother works long hours to support the family. It's the early 1950s, and, with the return of the servicemen, housing and jobs are scarce. Unfortunately, Henry's boss is a bigot ed, abusive individual whose hatred of others is so consuming that he intentionally sets out to corrupt the boy's goodness. He forces Henry to commit an ugly, violent act and betray a friendship with an elderly neighbor who has lost his home and family to the Nazis. As part of his rehabilitative therapy, Mr. Levine loving ly carves his vanished village and its population out of wood. The scenes in which he is ``home'' again demonstrate the Holocaust's horror in a deeply moving manner, and Cormier wrench ingly personalizes the man's grief. Tunes for Bears to Dance To , more a parable than a fully realized novel, is sharp, short, and to the point. The characters are fairly one-dimensional and their circumstances are portrayed as black or white. Why they are ``good'' or ``evil'' is not explained, and little room is left for shades of gray. They simply embody the concepts Cor mier is exploring. This book has limitations, but it will not be easily forgotten. It will make fascinating material for group discussion. -- Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, County of Henrico Public Library, Richmond, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440219033
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 151,780
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Cormier
Robert Cormier
Some parents found Robert Cormier’s unsparing, sometimes brutal young adult novels “too shocking,” but his critics and readers alike loved them for their honesty, their integrity, and their refusal to sugar-coat or evade real issues for a young audience. Cormier was one of the first writers for young adults to introduce and discuss controversial subjects in his books.

Biography

With The Chocolate War, an unsparing story of corruption and brutal vengeance at a Catholic boys’ school, Robert Cormier turned what had been the sunny world of young adult fiction upside down. The book launched Cormier on a highly successful and often controversial career, in which he tackled the darker issues of adolescence and American suburban life.

Like the anonymously authored Go Ask Alice in 1975, an at times harrowing story of drug abuse for young adult readers, the Chocolate War – and others of the author’s books -- ran into trouble with parent groups who found the writer’s subject matter inappropriate and his approach too explicit. (According to Herb Fostal’s Banned in the USA, The Chocolate War was fifth on a list of the most frequently banned books in American public libraries and schools in the 1990s.)

Reviewers, however, praised his writing. A journalist for much of his life, Cormier balanced his characters’ grim situations with a deft, vivid, lyrical style. Reviewing The Chocolate War, a critic for The New York Times Book Review described it as “masterfully structured and rich in theme; the action is well crafted, well timed, suspenseful; complex ideas develop and unfold with clarity.” When it came to themes, Cormier was unromantic and unflinching. In I Am the Cheese, Cormier evoked the uneasy and elusive world of a boy whose father has testified against organized criminals; in The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, the story pivots around terminally ill teenagers; in Tenderness Cormier introduced a serial killer and a sexually manipulative teenage girl. “Every topic is open, however shocking,” he told a reporter for The Guardian in November of 2000, in what would be one of his last interviews. “It’s the way the topics are handled that’s important.” In Cormier’s world there are no easy answers and few happy endings, but there is extraordinary insight into the world of adolescence: the cruelties, the isolation, and the often-bruising search for identity.

Despite his reputation as a disturber of the literary peace, Cormier was a small-town writer, who spent nearly his entire life working as a journalist for the Fitchburg Sentinel in Massachusetts; he published a memoir of his career in 1991 titled I Have Words to Spend: Reflections of a Small-Town Editor. In addition to four novels for adults, Cormier wrote one last novel for young adults, Frenchtown Summer, the story of a young teenager’s arrival in a new town told entirely in the boy’s poetry. He died on November 2, 2000.

Good To Know

Robert Cormier never lived more than three miles away from the house where he was born in Leominster, Massachusetts.

Cormier included his own phone number as that of one of the characters in I Am the Cheese, and wound up taking calls from thousands of teenagers.

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Fitch IV
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 17, 1925
    2. Place of Birth:
      Leominster, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      November 2, 2000
    2. Place of Death:
      Leominster, Massachusetts

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    my review for tunes for bears to dance to

    Tunes for Bears to Dance to is a historical fiction book related to World War 2 and the holocaust. In this story, the main protagonist is a boy named Henry, Henry has a dead brother named Eddie, but Henry wants to find a gravestone for his brother Eddie because currently, Eddie doesn¿t have one. One day Henry follows an old man called Mr. Levine to a craft center and discovers that the old man was making a tiny replica of a village that Mr. Levine had lived in during his childhood Mr. Levine had suffered great tragedies during the holocaust and still bears memories of his horrible experiences at Auschwitz. One day, Henry¿s boss, Mr. Harrison, makes an offer for Henry to get a gravestone for his dead brother Eddie, but there¿s a catch, Mr. Harrison wants Henry to do a horrible task, and if he doesn¿t, and to make sure he does it, Mr. Harrison will threaten Henry¿s life, will Henry decide to do the right thing at the cost of his future, or will he do something that could be unforgivable? I feel that this book¿s conflict was very strong, because Henry has to make an extremely tough choice between two things that seem much too important to lose, and in the end, the choice he chose was very surprising, but the book was a little too short. Aside from that I don¿t think that the book had very many weak points. I would probably recommend it to anyone who likes to read about realistic events, as well as some interesting historical facts in the books that they read. Overall, tunes for bears to dance to was pretty good and pretty exciting, I was impressed at how well written it was in spite of the fact that it was a little too short, I personally think that it could have been better if the author had added on to the story a little, as well as if it had a bit more excitement to it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2006

    Disappointing

    Tunes for Bears To Dance To is a novel filled with descriptive lacking relationships and characters, and contains an underdeveloped plot. It is simple, straight forward, and concise, though not worth the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    This book is okay

    I had to read this book for my langage arts class and it was for our historical fictions unit. I didnt reslly like this book because it didntmeet my interest

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  • Posted March 20, 2011

    Another Short But Wonderful Book By Cormier

    A very fast read, but full of topics to discuss w/ your YA. It's another Cormier book that delves into the dark side of humanity, although I never get tired of his themes. If parents would read these books, when their children read them, they would find many ways to connect and truely find out where their YA's heads are at.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 6, 2011

    Wow

    a verry good novel. i recomend to all. somewat depressing at times, yet verry upbeat and joyfull. a verry good read! !! :)

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2010

    Tunes For Bears To Dance To

    This was a terrible book. The characters were unbelievable and one dimensional, as was the plot. The symbolism was pushed too hard and the literature was emotionless. If you did not enjoy this book, then I recommend To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Evil Monster Tempts and Bribes Young Boy

    Tunes for Bears to Dance To by Robert Cormier is a historic, realistic fiction story set just after World War II. The title is a bit of mystery but I believe it is called that because Henry¿s boss wants him to do something against his nature¿like making a bear dance in a circus. In this moving account, Henry, a young boy, faces a terrible monster. His monster is in the form of his boss, Mr. Hairston, a bigoted, selfish man. Mr. Hairston pushes Henry to his toughest moral dilemma asking him to destroy something beautiful, just because of his prejudice. Henry is trying to do what is right for his family he is trying to earn extra money to help out his mother while his father is away at a mental hospital. Mr. Hairston commands Henry to do something terrible, and resorts to threats, bribes and blackmail to force him to comply. Henry is faced with the choice of doing as his boss demands, even though it seems wrong¿and hurting his family by standing up to his terrible boss. I believe one of the best things about this book is the way I could identify with the character, Henry. While his experiences were very different from mine, I could understand the choices and my heart hurt for him. Henry is just like us. He is a good guy in a bad situation¿and he didn¿t do anything wrong to get in that tough place. The thing I liked least about this book was the cruelty of Mr. Hairston. I have trouble understanding why anyone would be that mean, and why he really was so prejudiced. I do not hesitate to recommend this book to older middle school students. I think it might be too sad for younger readers and touches on serious family issues that might trouble young readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Read this Great Book

    This historical fiction story is about an 11 year old boy named Henry who meets a special man named Mr. Levine. Mr. Levine is a man who survived the holocaust and that¿s why he is so special. Mr. Levine went to Auschwitz a concentration camp for Jews where they were killed and harmed any way possible by Nazis. Mr. Levine spends most of his time carving replicas of his family and his old village that was all destroyed during the holocaust. Henry¿s brother Eddie died making his family very sad. Eddie was a great baseball player and does not have a head stone or tomb stone. Henry also meets a shop owner named Mr. Hariston. He hates Jews he basically hates everyone who is different from himself. He even calls his wife ugly and his daughter dumb and hits both of them. If you decide to read this wonderful book you will see that Mr. Hariston kills Mr. Levine¿s spirit of survival. When going to the center to visit Mr. Levine he runs into a giant man named George Grahm. At first Henry is scared of the giant but they build a friendship talking when Henry visits Mr. Levine. Henry also meets a kid named Jakie Antonelli and Jakie says that Henry¿s dad belongs in the crazy house because he is worthless. Henry jumps him and tries to choke him before a veteran pulls him off. He was still wearing his khaki uniform people say he hasn¿t slept at all since he stormed the beaches of France on D-day. One day after a visit to the center Mr. Hariston wants Henry to do a bad deed. Read this book to find out more! If you love to learn about Interesting historical events I recommend this book. I you are more of a fantasy reader I recommend you to offer this great book to a friend. I also recommend this book to middle school Social Studies teachers. This historical fiction story is about an 11 year old boy named Henry who meets a special man named Mr. Levine. Mr. Levine is a man who survived the holocaust and that¿s why he is so special. Mr. Levine went to Auschwitz a concentration camp for Jews where they were killed and harmed any way possible by Nazis. Mr. Levine spends most of his time carving replicas of his family and his old village that was all destroyed during the holocaust. Henry¿s brother Eddie died making his family very sad. Eddie was a great baseball player and does not have a head stone or tomb stone. Henry also meets a shop owner named Mr. Hariston. He hates Jews he basically hates everyone who is different from himself. He even calls his wife ugly and his daughter dumb and hits both of them. If you decide to read this wonderful book you will see that Mr. Hariston kills Mr. Levine¿s spirit of survival. When going to the center to visit Mr. Levine he runs into a giant man named George Grahm. At first Henry is scared of the giant but they build a friendship talking when Henry visits Mr. Levine. Henry also meets a kid named Jakie Antonelli and Jakie says that Henry¿s dad belongs in the crazy house because he is worthless. Henry jumps him and tries to choke him before a veteran pulls him off. He was still wearing his khaki uniform people say he hasn¿t slept at all since he stormed the beaches of France on D-day. One day after a visit to the center Mr. Hariston wants Henry to do a bad deed. Read this book to find out more! If you love to learn about Interesting historical events I recommend this book. I you are more of a fantasy reader I recommend you to offer this great book to a friend. I also recommend this book to middle school Social Studies teachers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2007

    Tunes for Bears to Dance to

    Tunes for Bears to Dance to is a very good book. This story is historical fiction, and I usually don¿t like this kind of genre, but this was a good book. This book is strong in it¿s great detail and word use. It¿s weakness is that sometimes you can get really confused and not follow the story very well, but you usually get back into the story pretty fast. I recommend this book to everyone, especially if you like suspense. This book starts out with a very depressed family because Henry¿s 'the Protagonist' brother died by getting hit by a car, he is the only person in the graveyard without a headstone. At the beginning of the book Henry has a broken leg and all he does is stare out of his window. Henry realizes that everyday an older man comes out of a ¿crazy house,¿ as he calls the asylum, right beside his house. When he finally gets his cast off he follows the old man to see where he goes everyday. He followed him to a destroyed city where he went inside a Craft Center. Henry went up to the door and knocked, it was answered by a very big man, he got scared and he ran all the way home. The next day he went back, but this time he didn¿t run away from the big man, whose name was George Graham. He also figured out that the old man¿s name was Mr. Levine. Henry figured out that Mr. Levine was a victim of the Holocaust, and he had been abused. That is why he stays in the asylum. He also figured out that he went to the Craft Center because he was rebuilding his old town out of wooded figures. The first time Henry visited the Craft Center he had to leave earlier than he wanted to go to work at a shop owned by Mr. Hairston. Mr. Hairston was a very mean man, he abused his wife, his daughter, and when people left his shop he also made rude remarks about them. One day Henry figures out that Mr. Hairston is going to fire him Henry is very surprised by this. Henry didn¿t tell his parents because he didn¿t want to upset his parents any more. He went back to the Craft Center everyday for a long time. When Mr. Levine finished the village it looked very good, they figured out that it was going to be displayed at City Hall, this made Mr. Levine very happy. When Henry went back to work, Mr. Hairston asked him if he wanted to keep his job, Henry said that he did. Then Mr. Hairston told him how he could keep his job, it was by crushing Mr. Levine¿s wooden village. Henry was shocked and he didn¿t know what to do, there were other rewards for crushing the village too, his mom would get a raise, and his brother would get a headstone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Great book for middle school age boys and girls

    Tunes for Bears to Dance To is a historic/realistic fiction book which tells the story of a boy named Henry. Henry¿s brother died recently and Henry and his parents have moved to a new town. Henry¿s mom is a waitress and Henry¿s dad is depressed and unemployed since Henry¿s brother¿s death. They are so poor that they can¿t even afford to get Henry¿s brother a tombstone. Henry has a broken leg and passes the time by watching people outside his window. He notices an old man that walks out of the ¿crazy house¿ across the street every morning and returns late every afternoon. Henry wonders where this old man goes all day and decides to follow him when he gets better. Once his leg heals, Henry goes to work for Mr. Hariston, a grocer. Mr. Hariston is mean and always makes rude comments about people as they pass by his store. One day, Henry follows the old man and finds out that he goes to a community workshop and spends his day carving a miniature wooden village. Henry and Mr. Levine 'the old man' become friends and Henry visits him regularly at the workshop. Henry makes the big mistake of telling Mr. Hariston about his friendship with Mr. Levine. Henry asks Mr. Hariston where he can get a tombstone for his brother and Mr. Hariston offers to buy Henry¿s brother a tombstone if Henry will destroy Mr. Levine¿s model of the village. If Henry destroys the model, Mr. Levine promises to get his mom a raise and his brother will finally get a tombstone. Will Henry betray the trust of his friend, Mr. Levine? The only way to find out is to read Tunes for Bears to Dance To. In my opinion, the book¿s strength is its character development. As a reader, I agonized along with Henry when he had to make this difficult decision. This book shows you what lengths people will go to when they want something badly enough. It also demonstrates the strength of the Holocaust survivors. I did, however, have trouble relating to the title and I had to ask my teacher what dancing bears had to do with it! I would recommend this book to any middle school reader that enjoys historical fiction. If you like short books that are thought provoking, this would be a great choice for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Tunes for Bears to Dance To

    The book Tunes For Bears To Dance To, by Robert Cormier, is a realistic fiction book. Readers who enjoy World War II books would especially like this book, but I think all readers should enjoy it. This book is about a boy named Henry whose brother, Eddie, has just died in a car accident. His family moves to Frenchtown where Henry meets an Auschwitz survivor named Mr. Levine. He is a Jewish man who resides in a mental health hospital. That¿s because at Auschwitz the guards made them tip their hats hours on end. He is carving a model of his childhood hometown. His artwork is supposed to be on display in a few days. Henry also has a job at a grocery store that is owned by Mr. Hairston. Mr. Hairston is an anti-semitist and a racist. He is always discriminating against people behind their backs, but of course he is good to them when they come in as customers. Henry¿s family is a poor family so they could not afford a tombstone for Eddie. One day Mr. Hairston says that he wants Henry to crush Mr. Levine¿s village. He bribes Henry and blackmails him at the same. Henry is faced with either hurting his family or hurting Mr. Levine. Tunes for Bears to Dance To is short and easy to read. It only has about 100 pages. Also, I think Robert Cormier has great detail. For example, in the book it said that the craft shop had windows that were painted all black and there were ¿wise guys¿ hanging around the area. Also, in the book it said Henry had a broken leg, which was not very important in the book but it helped paint a picture in your mind. Overall I liked this book for its detail and ease of read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    The Novel of Life Lessons We All Should Be Learning

    ¿Tunes For Bears to Dance To¿ is a page-turner and an interesting piece of historical fiction. This story is about Henry who is a thirteen year old boy. His brother has died in a car crash, so his family is in a depressing state. Henry worked for the grocer named Mr.Hairiston who was a very evil and devious man. He soon meets Dorris, Mr. Hairiston¿s daughter and he know many things about her such as she¿s a major klutz. She has bruises all over her body, but soon comes to find out that those aren¿t from her trips and falls, but from the beatings of her own father. After this finding, Henry meets Mr. Levine, and finds that he was in Auschwitz. This is where all of his family was killed, which has left him with barely any money to spare. Now Mr.Levine is making a wooden model of his town, and the only thing Henry can do to keep his job and his mother¿s is to do what Mr. Hairiston says and destroy the masterpiece. This was a very good book and it has many strengths. One is that it is a very powerful and strong book, so it teaches very good life lessons. This book also had some weaknesses. The one that I found was that half of the book is very boring, and it makes you want to put the book down at times. Other than that it is a wonderful book. I would highly recommend this to a young high school group or people that thoroughly enjoy suspenseful novels. This book probably isn¿t the best book for action and adventure lovers, because most of it is a little more serious and solemn. Altogether, this book was a great teacher of the basic life lessons and I would enjoy reading it again soon.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Critical Review on Tunes for Bears to Dance to

    Historical Fiction Critical Review: The name of my book I read is Tunes for Bears to Dance to. It is a historical fiction story. It is about a boy named Henry who meets a holocaust survivor whose name is Mr. Levine. Mr. Harriston (Henry¿s employer) pressures him to smash Mr. Levine¿s favorite piece of artwork he has been working on. What do you think Henry will do? Henry¿s brother died which made his father get really depressed. The book is also about making the right choices even when somebody is telling you not to. And last, this book was about loosing people you love. This book¿s strengths are the book is so small and doesn¿t take much time to read, but it holds so much. The author is good at giving a lot of information in few words. In addition it is the type of book that makes you thankful about how we live today, and how we don¿t have to go through the terrible things the people in the holocaust did. One more strength is that this book uses fantastic similes and metaphors. A weakness I often found is that the author uses some more complicated or confusing words. Such as, reverberated, askew, vamoose, beckoned, vigil, and erratic. I myself trouble understanding what these words meant. I would recommend this book, but probably only to middle school students and older because it may not make a lot of sense to little kids. People should read this book because it has important themes everybody should learn. Also, so we don¿t forget what happened in the holocaust. This is a good book for families to read together because it could bring up good discussions everyone could benefit from. This is an over all wonderful book that I enjoyed reading, and kept me interested the whole time!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Tunes For Bears to Dance To book review.

    Tunes For Bears To Dance To is a realistic fiction book. It is a story and an ok book in my opinion. It is an ok book because it could be boring and lose you at times, but it could also be very exciting. I would recommend this book to high school students who like realistic fiction and short reads. The books strong parts are when someone blackmails Henry, Henry¿s decision about the blackmailing and the conclusion of the book. The books weak parts are that the book could lose you at times, it could be boring, and would sometimes say something out of the blue. Even though there are more weaknesses than strengths when you got to the strengths they are very good. A tragedy happens to Henry¿s family and they are all depressed. So they move to Frenchtown where Henry has some bad experiences. He gets blackmailed and breaks his leg, but good things happen to him too. Henry befriends Mr. Levine a man who survived Auschwitz during WW2 and is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Henry makes friends and helps out at the art center where Mr. Levine goes. His dad goes into a hospital because of his deep depression. Henry starts going to the art center a lot but then his boss tells him to stop going there and being with Mr. Levine. Henry notices that Mr. Levine tips his cap to no one and a man tells him why Mr. Levine does that. The next day Henry gets blackmailed by someone to do something bad. The person tells him that it will be easy and that no one will care but Henry knows it is wrong. Henry wonders about the decision all day. Finally Henry makes his decision¿ Will Henry do it or not? Read the book to find out.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2007

    Loved it then, love it now.

    I read this book in seventh grade. It a requirement to read for english. I found the title a bit strange at first, but after reading it, it fit together. I found it on the shelf when I was getting ready to move last year and reread it. Even then, three years later, I found I loved it. Great book! Must read! Even though I enjoyed this book, when I tried reading more by the author I was a bit disappointed. His other books aren't as good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2005

    GREAT BOOK!

    We are reading this book in library. First I thought this book was boring but it was acutally good. The title doesn't go with the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2005

    Great Book

    this book is a great book it gives details and it makes you wonder what was goin to happen. The only thing i didnt like was the title didnt make since with the book. But other than that it was a great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    Great Book

    This is a great book, short and to the point. I read it in a day. It teaches about love and honesty and standing up for what you believe in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2003

    This is a must read.

    This has to be one of the most unforgetable books that I've ever read. I'll never forget the ending as long as I live. I strongly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2002

    A VERY good book!

    When I first started to read Tunes for Bears to Dance to,I didnt really want to. It was for summer reading, but then I started to read it, and I really enjoyed it. It made me reconsider things that I do in life, and it made me also be more happy with what I have.

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