Tunes for Bears to Dance To Book Poster Image

Tunes for Bears to Dance To



Compelling, simple story with an emotional wallop.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The villain despises people of all races and ethnic backgrounds different from his own. The main character briefly succumbs to evil but redeems himself.


The main character has a brief fight with another boy, and readers learn that the villain beats his daughter. Mr. Hairston forces Henry to choose between committing an evil act or losing his family's entire income.

Not applicable

Mr. Hairston constantly uses words disparaging to ethnic groups.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this compelling, simple story carries an emotional wallop, keeping kids interested with simple and stark but effective writing. This beautifully written novel will give you and your children a lot to think and talk about.

What's the story?

After World War II, Henry's father cannot work, and his mother scratches out a living as a waitress. The boy's prejudiced employer tells Henry to destroy an art project created by an elderly Holocaust survivor, or else he will fire Henry and have his mother fired. Henry must learn how to fight the evil man in this short but compelling morality tale.

Is it any good?


Robert Cormier's simplest book tackles his major theme, evil, with an easy story suitable for readers younger than his usual audience. The brevity of the story helps intensify its impact on readers.

This beautifully written novel will give you and your children a lot to think and talk about. It is short enough that it doesn't intimidate most reluctant readers, and tells a story compelling enough to interest adults. It's an excellent introduction to Cormier's longer and more difficult works.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the notion of evil. In what forms does evil appear in the story? How are these evils combated?

Book details

Author:Robert Cormier
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date:January 1, 1992
Number of pages:101
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 14

This review of Tunes for Bears to Dance To was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byclimb4time2 April 9, 2008
Teen, 15 years old Written bydesi564 February 5, 2011
Im 12 and i do nut like reading but this was a fantastic book!! i Really enjoyed reading this book! easy book project to!!
What other families should know
Great role models
Adult Written bycanash12 July 15, 2015


This book was a required reading by school. I think it has a lot of content to deal with that someone, under the age of 14, may have trouble processing. (racism, death, manipulation etc.) My child is only 12 . I would like more books that empower our children with information that can really move them in a positive direction. I felt this book does not do this. Again, my opinion ;)


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