Traveling into territory more commonly associated with Isaac Bashevis Singer, Newbery Medalist Fleischman (The Whipping Boy) draws attention to the especially cruel treatment of Jewish children during the Holocaust. The "Great Freddie" is a decorated GI, an orphan who has stayed in Europe and, by 1948, has found a toehold as a ventriloquist. And then Avrom Amos Poliakov shows up-rather, takes over. Avrom Amos is a dybbuk, a wandering soul or ghost, and, by demonstrating how he might speak for Freddie's wooden dummy, Avrom Amos convinces Freddie to let him lodge within Freddie. The dybbuk makes good on his promise, and Freddie's act becomes the toast of Paris. But Avrom Amos has his own agenda, as Freddie knows. He wants to track down the infamous SS colonel who not only killed him but also tortured children, including his sister, and before long, the dybbuk co-opts Freddie's act and his interviews to spread the word about the SS colonel. The dybbuk's voice will shock some readers; he speaks in embittered, Yiddish-inflected English that drives home his point. Here is Avrom Amos giving Freddie a history lesson: "You didn't hear [that Hitler] told his Nazi meshuggeners, those lunatics, 'Soldiers of Germany, have some fun and go murder a million and a half Jewish kids? All ages! Babies, fine. Girls with ribbons in their hair, why not?' " Fleischman inserts horrific factual details of Nazi brutality, and yet his message about bearing witness may be submerged beneath the sensational story line. Ages 9-14. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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The Entertainer and the Dybbuk
In the gray, bombed-out city of Vienna, Austria, an American ventriloquist opened the closet door of his hotel. Still in his tuxedo and overcoat, The Great Freddie intended to put away the battered suitcase in which he carried his silent wooden dummy. But there on the floor sat a gaunt man with arms folded across his knees, waiting. After a second glance, The Great Freddie realized it was a child, a long-legged child with the hungry look of a street kid. In the deep shadows the intruder glowed faintly, as if sprayed with moonlight.
"Well, well, howdy," said the ventriloquist, startled. "Waiting for a bus?"
"Waiting for you, Mr. Yankee Doodle, sir."
The entertainer, thin as a cornstalk from his native Nebraska, grinned and shucked his overcoat. Someone's idea of a prank, was this? "If you're under the notion that all Yanks are millionaires and an easy touch, you may go through my pockets. I'm just about broke. Tapped out. Down to bedrock."
"Feh! Who needs your money?" asked the intruder. "I once saved your life."
"You don't say."
"Would I lie to you?"
"You're a mouthy kid," the lanky American remarked. "I've never laid eyes on you."
"Want to bet, Sergeant?"
Sergeant? The Great Freddie's cat-green eyes narrowed as he peered into the closet. Confound this pest. How had he known that Freddie T. Birch, second-rate ventriloquist, had been in uniform? The big war in Europe had ended three years before. It was now 1948. Freddie's army haircut had long ago grown out. Now in his early twenties, he parted his hair in the middle and slicked it back,shiny as glass. What had tipped off this kid?
"Lucky guess," the entertainer said finally. What was it with the boy's eyes? They were unnaturally bright, as if lit from within. "Who are you, a kid actor from one of the theaters? I know makeup when I see it. You're painted up white as Caesar's ghost."
"I am a ghost," replied the intruder.
"Don't make me laugh."
"Am I cracking jokes, Mr. Yank?"
The Great Freddie, growing impatient, wanted to brush his teeth and tumble into bed. "Go haunt someone else. I can see your sharp elbows. Ghosts are wisps of fog."
"Sorry to disappoint you," said the intruder.
"Anyway, pal, I've never heard of a ghost in short pants."
"Excuse me, there are lots of us. Did they keep it a secret from you in the army? The Holocaust? Adolf Hitlermay he choke forever on herring bones! You didn't hear he told his Nazi meshuggeners, those lunatics, 'Soldiers of Germany, have some fun and go murder a million and a half Jewish kids? All ages! Babies, fine. Girls with ribbons in their hair, why not? Boys in short pants, like Avrom Amos Poliakov? That's me, and how do you do? No, I wasn't old enough for long pants. Me, not yet a bar mitzvah boy when the long-nosed German SS officer shot me and left me in the street to bleed to death. So, behold, you see a dybbuk in short pants, not yet thirteen but older'n God."
The Great Freddie took a deep breath. He was dimly aware that Hitler, the sputtering dictator with the fungus of a mustache, had sent children to his slaughterhouses. But so many?
Ugly vote by vote, the Germans had elected a lunatic to run their country. Freddie wasted no pity on the once-proud survivors who had voted him into power. They had drowned democracy like a kitten, invaded Poland and France and ignited World War II. Now Germany lay bombed into a rubble of fallen roofs and shattered lives. Freddie had volunteered to do his part.
The former bombardier cleared his mind of the war. "So you're a ghost in short pants."
"I said, a dybbuk. A spirit. With tsuris. That means trouble in my native language, Mr. Far-Away America. Think of me as a Jewish imp. I need to possess someone's body for a while, rent free. You're kind of tall and skinny, but I won't complain."
The ventriloquist cocked an eye. "Has anyone told you you're a sassy kid or dybbuk or whatever you are?"
"When you dodge Nazi soldiers for years, why not? When you hide in sewers and then knock around with dybbuks for more years, your tongue sharpens like an ice pick. You'd prefer baby talk?"
"I'd prefer you attach yourself to someone else," said the ventriloquist. "I've got no time for a snotty spirit hanging on to me like a leech. I have enough trouble of my own."
"And no wonder, Mr. Entertainer," said the dybbuk. "I caught your act. You move your lips like a carp."
"And I'll bet you snuck in the theater."
"Why not?" replied the dybbuk. "Don't I come from a family of actors?"
The ventriloquist wondered if the glass of dinner wine he'd had after his last performance had gone to his head. "Why am I talking to you?" he asked aloud. "I don't believe in ghosts."
"You want to know the truth," replied the dybbuk, "neither do I. but here I am, fit as a fiddle."
The Great Freddie kicked the closet door shut. He was hallucinating, wasn't he? Dreaming on his feet?
The ventriloquist pulled off his jacket and patent-leather shoes. Early the next morning he had a train to catch. He had been booked for a week across the border in Italy. He brushed his teeth, checked the sheets for postwar bedbugs, and fell into bed.
"Sleep tight," said the dybbuk through the closet door.The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. Copyright © by Sid Fleischman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Sid Fleischman has written over three dozen books for young readers, including the Newbery Award winner The Whipping Boy. Before becoming a writer, he worked as a professional magician, then as a reporter. His other books include Disappearing Act and his acclaimed autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid. You can visit him on the Web at www.sidfleischman.com.
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This is one of the best books I have read.Sid Fleisghman has done it again.I have read another book by him called "The Whipping Boy".He hasn't failed me yet.The book is about a ventriloquist, The Great Freddie, stumbles upon a dybbuk.A what you might ask?.A dybbuk is a Jewish spirit that glows as if struck with moonlight. The dybbuk turns out to be Avrom Amos. Avrom was killed during World War 2.He possesses The Great Freddie as part of his diabolical scheme to avenge the guy that killed him as well as other Jewish kids like his sister.You have to read the book to see what happens in the end. I recommend all of my friends to read this book as well as adults.This is a unique book.I love that this was different than most books.You don't see books about a dybbuk.I like the plot of the story too.Who would think to write a book about a dybbuk.What made the author want to write a book about a dybbuk anyways.I would like to read "The 13th Floor".It sounds interesting just by reading the title.I would also like to read "The Scarebird".It looks like the book is about a scarecrow because a scarecrow scares away crows which are birds.I know you will like the book.Enjoy.
My son really enjoyed this book.
Austin Feltrinelli 11/12/09 The book that I read was called The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. The author of this book is the Newbery Medalist Sid Fleisghman. The genre of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is more along the lines of historical fiction. Like many other readers I also enjoyed The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. Another book review about this story that I found interesting stated that "there's nothing "usual" about this little book. Like so many things in life the story contains mystery, beauty, enchantment, and horror". This was a great analogue of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is a great story about a Jewish boy who was killed in the Holocaust and how he now seeks vengeance on the German SS Officer who has killed his sister and himself. The Jewish boy has become a dybbuk in his afterlife and has pocessed an American ventriloquist to get revenge on the German Officer and meanwhile helping the ventriloquist with his act to become famous. The main characters of this story are Avrom Amos the dybbuk, Freddie the ventriloquist, and Officer Gerhard Junker-Strupp the German SS Officer. The main setting of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk takes place in Paris. This is where Freddie has many of his shows and where he lives. I thought that this was a great book and that kids of all ages should read it. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is a perfect book for someone who likes a good mystery but with somewhat of a scary twist. This is a great historical fiction story that has a good-feeling storyline and ending. Everyone should go out and get themselves a copy of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk.
an enterainer gets a 2nd soil and get a new act and becumes famuse. i tought it was a good book.
i got this book at the school library becasue we had to pick out a book from a time period... this book talks about the halocaust..it is sad and funny!! it talks about a boy form the halocaust and him perfroming with a dummy! i reccommend this book to anyone who has learned about the halocaust... the first couple of chapters are not AS exciting but important !!! so read