IKE AND MAMA AND THE SEVEN SURPRISES by Carol Snyder

IKE AND MAMA AND THE SEVEN SURPRISES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Warmth has given way to mush, alas, on East 136th Street in the 1920s Bronx. And the contrivance, pegged to Jewish customs and immigrant folkways, would be at home on an afternoon soap. lke is a about to be bar mitzvahed, and Papa is in the hospital with TB--not comfortingly close-by, but down at Bellevue, where he has fresh-air outings on the St. John's Hospital Snip. Hard as times are, Mama lets Ike keep Boy, the stray puppy he saves from being run over; for that deed, says she, ""you will have seven surprises before sundown on the day you are a man. Some you will get and some you will give. Most will be good, maybe all if you are ready to think like a man. My Mama's mama in Russia once said that."" The surprise that doesn't look good at all is the arrival, from Russia, of ""greena"" Cousin Jake--who sits in Papa's chair, and wants to help Ike practice for his bar mitzvah, like Papa. There are contretemps with Boy (who naturally jumps at the word) and with Cousin Jake: who's terrified of Boy; whose penchant for burning cigarette holes in his comforter necessitates a nightly vigil. But the main business is the surprise Ike plans to make Papa feel better--which involves getting all his friends out of school, and getting a sympathetic Bellevue nurse to wheel Papa off the ship near them--and the surprise Mama plans for Ike on his bar mitzvah day, after he's manfully given up hope of Papa being there: a full-scale ceremony, right on the hospital-ship pier. ""You must never give up wishing and dreaming--that part of being a child gives you the strength to be a man."" Heavy with the Jewish accent, otherwise flimsy.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1985
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard