Treat yourself to a visit to the wackiest restaurant ever!Ten-year-old Shoshi and her eight-year-old brother, Moshe, arrive in New York in 1898 from Russia with their mother and Snigger, the baby dragon that saved them from an attack by Cossack soldiers. Five years earlier, their father had also come to New York to make his fortune, but no one has heard from him since. Through a series of adventures and misadventures, Shoshi and Moshe use their wits to navigate through New York City's Lower East Side, making new ...
Treat yourself to a visit to the wackiest restaurant ever!Ten-year-old Shoshi and her eight-year-old brother, Moshe, arrive in New York in 1898 from Russia with their mother and Snigger, the baby dragon that saved them from an attack by Cossack soldiers. Five years earlier, their father had also come to New York to make his fortune, but no one has heard from him since. Through a series of adventures and misadventures, Shoshi and Moshe use their wits to navigate through New York City's Lower East Side, making new friends and even a few foes: Salty, the seaman who helps the family smuggle Snigger through Ellis Island; Aloysius P. Thornswaddle, carnival barker extraordinaire; Dingle Hinglehoffer, pitcher for the Brooklyn Slobbers; and the mysterious Man in the Black Cape. With the help of Snigger, they set out to solve the mystery behind their father's disappearance, helping to free the Lower East Side from the tyrannical rule of gangster Nick the Stick along the way. Mrs. Kaputnik's Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium is a colorful tale that blends history and fantasy with a journey of discovery, adventure, and fun.
Gr 4–6—Emigrating from Russia in hopes of reuniting with their father in America, Shoshi and Moshe Kapustin and their mother get renamed Kaputnik on Ellis Island. Their story would be placed squarely in the historical fiction genre if not for their pet dragon. Hatched from an egg acquired from a mysterious peddler, Snigger saves the family from a Cossack raid, but his presence raises fear in the superstitious villagers, and the Kapustins are forced to leave. This give-and-take of owning a dragon continues throughout the journey and in New York, where Snigger raises as much delight as trouble. Heavy on plot elements (the trials and tribulations of immigration, a gangster trying to shake down the neighborhood, a baseball rivalry between the oddly named Yoinkles and Slobbers), red herrings (is the man who helped get Snigger through customs in cahoots with the gangster?), and reappearing characters, there is never a proper balance struck between the whimsical and realistic moments. Even dragon lovers may find the humor falling flat.—Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library
The traditional Lower East Side Jewish immigration story is rekindled with the inclusion of a fantastical fire-breathing-yet-friendly dragon and a bunch of lead-hard matzo balls. The Kapustins-big sister Shoshi, brother Moshe and Mama-arrive at Ellis Island hoping to meet up with Papa, who is supposedly the owner of a classy restaurant on Hester Street. But reality hits hard when they learn that Papa has been missing for five years, their small amount of cash is stolen and the business is nothing but a filthy, failed eating hole that is prey to an extortionist. The Kapustins, renamed Kaputnik by the immigration inspector, are a feisty bunch, having already traveled with a rapidly growing baby dragon (named Snigger) that serves not only as a pet but as a protector. Arato's atypical story is filled with some other seedy, though sometimes well-meaning characters, who participate in the family's struggle to solve their emblematic problems with some amusing and ingenious solutions. Although everything bad that can happen does, mild humor and the fantasy element introduced by the dragon blunt the edge and keep the story line fresh. (Magical adventure/historical fiction. 8-11)
RONA ARATO was born in New York and grew up in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in magazines and newspapers in Canada and the United States. She taught elementary school in Los Angeles and Toronto, adult creative writing for the Toronto District School Board, and has conducted business writing workshops for profit and nonprofit organizations. From 1994-1998, she was an interviewer for Survivors of the Shoa, a Steven Spielberg project that recorded the histories of Holocaust survivors. Rona Arato lives in Toronto with her husband, Paul.