The Bear Makers
Kata doesn’t understand why her brother hasn’t come home.
Set in 1948 in Budapest, where the secret police force is questioning everyone’s loyalty and conditions seem to be worsening.
Eleven-year-old Kata doesn’t understand why her brother Bela is acting so strange lately or why he hasn’t come home from his recent excursion. Her father is depressed and barely able to function.. He used to be the owner of a factory, but now he is an employee whose wages continue to be cut. He refuses to become a member of the Hungarian Workers Party, which causes him no end of trouble. Along with her friend and neighbor, Eva, Kata joins the Young Pioneers, a communist youth group. She’s often torn between doing the right thing for her country and helping her family. But she diligently helps her mother sew the bears and handbags that they will sell on the black market to help ends meet. Eventually she learns that Bela has escaped to Vienna, Austria, just in time, as conditions at the border are growing increasingly dangerous. At first, Kata is angry and sad. She blames her brother for abandoning the family, but eventually she becomes hopeful that someday he will make it to America and send for her and her parents. With the help of her father, she begins studying so she will be ready when the time comes.
Bear Makers is the story of one family trying to survive in post-war Hungary. When their family first returned from hiding after the war, they were glad to be alive, glad to return to their homes, and hopeful that life would improve. But the secret police force, known as the AVO, is questioning even ordinary citizens about their loyalty to the Hungarian Workers Party. And conditions in Budapest seem to be worsening.
- Ages: 11 - 14
- Grades: 6 - 9
- Pages: 176