The Bear That Wasn't | Facing History & Ourselves

The Bear That Wasn't

This clip is a video adaptation of the illustrated book, The Bear That Wasn’t.
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  • Social Studies
  • Culture & Identity

The Bear That Wasn't

Once upon a time, in fact it was on a Tuesday, the Bear saw that it was time to go into a cave and hibernate. And that was just what he did. Not long afterward, in fact it was on a Wednesday, lots of workers arrived near that cave. While the bear slept they built a great, huge factory.

As winter turned to spring, the Bear awoke and stepped out of his cave. His eyes popped. Where was the forest? Where was the grass? Where were the trees? Where were the flowers? What had happened?

"I must be dreaming," he said. "Of course I'm dreaming."

But it wasn't a dream. It was real. Just then, the Foreman came out of the factory. "Hey, you. Get back to work," he said.

The Bear replied. "I don't work here. I'm a Bear."

The foreman laughed. "That's a fine excuse for a man to keep from doing any work. Saying he's a Bear."

The Bear said, "But I am a Bear."

The Foreman stopped laughing. He was very mad. "Don't try to fool me," he said. "You're not a Bear. You're a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat. I'm going to take you to the General Manager."

The General Manager also insisted the Bear was a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.

The Bear said, "No, you're mistaken. I am a Bear."

The General Manager was very mad too.

The Bear said, "I'm sorry to hear you say that. You see, I am a Bear."

The Third Vice President was even madder. The Second Vice President was more than mad, or madder. He was furious. The First Vice President yelled in rage. He said, "You're not a Bear. You're a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat. I'm going to take you to the President."

The Bear pleaded, "This is a dreadful error, you know, because ever since I can remember, I've always been a Bear."

And that's exactly what the Bear told the President.

"Thank you for telling me," the President said. "You can't be a Bear. Bears are only in a zoo or a circus. They're never inside a factory and that's where you are, inside a factory. So how can you be a Bear?"

The bear said, "But I am a Bear."

The President said, "Not only are you a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat, but you are also very stubborn. So I'm going to prove it to you, once and for all, that you are not a Bear."

The Bear said, "But I am a Bear."

The President packed his Vice Presidents and the Bear into a car, and they drove to the zoo. Bears at the zoo said the Bear was not a Bear, because if he were a Bear he would be inside a cage.

The Bear said, "I am a Bear."

So they all left the zoo and they drove to the nearest circus. "Is he a Bear?" The president asked the circus Bears.

The Bears said, no if he were a Bear he would be wearing a little hat with a striped ribbon holding on to a balloon and riding a bicycle.

The Bear said, "I am a Bear."

When the President and his Vice Presidents returned to the factory, they put the Bear to work on a big machine with lots of other men. The Bear worked on the big machine for many, many months.

After a long, long time, the factory closed and all the workers went away. The Bear was the last one left, and as he left the shut down factory, he saw geese flying south and leaves falling from the trees. Winter was coming, he thought. It was time to hibernate.

He found a cave and was about to enter when he stopped. "I can't go in a cave. I'm not a bear. I'm a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat."

As the days grew colder and the snow fell, the Bear sat shivering with cold. "I wish I-- I wish I were a Bear," he thought.

Then suddenly he got up, walked through the deep snow toward the cave. Inside, it was cozy and snug. The icy wind and the cold, cold snow couldn't reach him there. He felt warm all over. He sank down on a bed of pine boughs and soon he was happily asleep and dreaming sweet dreams, just like all bears do when they hibernate.

So even though the Foreman, and the General Manager, and the Third Vice President, and the Second Vice President, and the First Vice President, and the President, and the zoo Bears, and the circus Bears, had said he was a silly man who needed a shave and wore a fur coat, I don't think he really believed it, do you?

No, indeed, he knew he wasn't a silly man, and he wasn't a silly Bear either.

This excerpt comes from Facing History and Ourselves, Holocaust and Human Behavior. For more information on this resource and our organization, please visit our website, or find us on Facebook.

The Bear That Wasn't

Facing History & Ourselves

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