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THE ENTERTAINER AND THE DYBBUK by Sid Fleischman Kirkus Star


by Sid Fleischman

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-06-134445-9
Publisher: Greenwillow Books

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)