"The genuinely evoked setting and circumstances and the plucky boy's narrow escapes compel attention; the fact that he's last seen boarding a ship, penniless but hoping to find an aunt in New York, suggests a sequel. (Fiction. 9-12)"
When his astonished enemy Dovid, a bully who tormented him back in their Russian village, asks why Mendel has risked his life to save Dovid's, Mendel—trying to fathom his own motives- -can only reply, ``I had to close a circle.'' He is recalling his father's words: ``All growing things live and die in a circle...My knowledge is part of a circle from my grandfather...to me...and now to you...it is when you give that you gain power...Only then do you become a circlemaker.'' At 12, Mendel has fled from the forcible induction of Jewish boys into the czar's army; by coincidence, one of the men who helps him toward the Hungarian border pairs him with Dovid—who has just escaped from the army—for the journey's last leg.
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