It had always been just the three of them: Papa, Benno, and the bear. Papa would play his concertina while the bear danced and Benno stole coins out of people's pockets. Papa was proud of Benno's quick hands, and Benno was proud of his bear. He would brush her fur until it shone, sneak her extra scraps of food, and protect her from Papa's anger, which could make the earth shiver. But one day Benno forgets Papa's words, "Quick in, quicker out." Papa is thrown in jail, and the bear is sent to the zoological park. Now Benno must discover how to navigate a new world where he has to mind his manners, go to school, learn to read, and dare to trust the kindly policeman and his wife who have taken him in. After so much change, will he ever find his way back to his bear and to Papa-and will Papa accept his son's new world?