Naomi Zucker
Benno's bear jacket

Benno’s Bear, Dutton Children’s Books, 2001. Ages 8-12

They called him a thief, but Benno knew he was better than a thief. A thief held a knife to people or sneaked into their houses when they were sleeping. Not Benno. Papa had taught him so well that he could stand right next to people and they never knew he was taking their purses or their jewelry. His fingers were swift as spiders’ legs. All he needed was his dancing bear, his look-away.


“In an extraordinary debut, the novelist limns the connection between a child and a wild creature, a bond that will free them both.”
 —Smithsonian Magazine’s Notable Books for Children, 2001

“Themes of loneliness and separation are woven into questions of loyalty and of what constitutes a family.”
 —School Library Journal, Oct. 2001

“[Benno’s] descriptions of life with his bear . . . fairly glow with tenderness.”
Horn Book, Nov./Dec. 2001

“Like Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, this deeply affecting first novel is a wonderful, nostalgic adventure story that swings from despair and abuse to delicious comfort from well-meaning adults. But in the end, it’s the child who must rescue himself.”
—Starred Review, Booklist, Nov. 2001

“ . . . a natural readaloud as well as a tempting readalone.”
The Bulletin, Dec. 2001


Connecticut Award Books, 2001
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award selection, 2002
Boston Authors’ Club Award, Honorable Mention, 2002
DCF Books, 2002-2003
Maine 2003-2004 Master Booklist
Rhode Island 2004 Children’s Book Award Nominee

Other editions

Junior Library Guild Selection, 2001
Dutch edition (Averbode) 2003