THE ENTERTAINER AND THE DYBBUK

Amidst the plethora of mostly depressing Holocaust children’s and YA literature, Fleischman introduces an ingenious approach to the topic and issues. In post-WWII Europe, The Great Freddie, an American gentile who is a mediocre ventriloquist, performs in clubs around the continent. Freddie becomes possessed by a dybbuk (the Jewish ghost of a boy, Avrom Amos, with an unfinished mission). Avrom, not yet 13, was brutally murdered by a Nazi bounty hunter. Sweet revenge is the mission and Avrom intends on achieving it through Freddie’s body and voice as he takes over the puppet act in order to publicly search for his murderer in each new city they play. Freddie’s refusal, then reluctance, soon turns to dependence as the dybbuk’s voices for the act make Freddie appear as a magical ventriloquist, never moving his lips and even drinking water during the act. Great success leads to better clubs and eventually back to America, where both Freddie and the dybbuk come to a mutual understanding upon finding the ex-Nazi in question. While the story incorporates a continual humorous banter between Freddie and the dybbuk, it is precisely their relationship that brings out themes of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and, in particular, the senseless methodical killing of children in hiding by bounty hunters for the price of a few coins each. Quick, creative, clever and thoroughly entertaining. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-134445-9

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense.

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REFUGEE

In the midst of political turmoil, how do you escape the only country that you’ve ever known and navigate a new life? Parallel stories of three different middle school–aged refugees—Josef from Nazi Germany in 1938, Isabel from 1994 Cuba, and Mahmoud from 2015 Aleppo—eventually intertwine for maximum impact.

Three countries, three time periods, three brave protagonists. Yet these three refugee odysseys have so much in common. Each traverses a landscape ruled by a dictator and must balance freedom, family, and responsibility. Each initially leaves by boat, struggles between visibility and invisibility, copes with repeated obstacles and heart-wrenching loss, and gains resilience in the process. Each third-person narrative offers an accessible look at migration under duress, in which the behavior of familiar adults changes unpredictably, strangers exploit the vulnerabilities of transients, and circumstances seem driven by random luck. Mahmoud eventually concludes that visibility is best: “See us….Hear us. Help us.” With this book, Gratz accomplishes a feat that is nothing short of brilliant, offering a skillfully wrought narrative laced with global and intergenerational reverberations that signal hope for the future. Excellent for older middle grade and above in classrooms, book groups, and/or communities looking to increase empathy for new and existing arrivals from afar.

Poignant, respectful, and historically accurate while pulsating with emotional turmoil, adventure, and suspense. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-88083-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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An outstanding new edition of this popular modern classic (Newbery Award, 1961), with an introduction by Zena Sutherland and...

ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

Coming soon!!

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1990

ISBN: 0-395-53680-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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