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|Entertainer and the dybbuk|
Author: Fleischman, Sid
A struggling American ventriloquist in post-World War II Europe is possessed by the mischievous spirit of a young Jewish boy killed in the Holocaust.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 3.70
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 116709
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 3.30
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 41672
Common Core Standards
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → 4.RL Integration & Knowledge of Ideas
Grade 4 → Reading → RL Literature → Texts Illustrating the Complexity, Quality, & Rang
Grade 6 → Reading → RL Literature → 6.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Grade 5 → Reading → RL Literature → 5.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Kirkus Reviews (+) (08/01/07)
School Library Journal (+) (00/08/07)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (10/07)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 10/01/2007 World War II veteran Freddie T. Birch never got around to returning to the U.S.A.; he’s been tramping across Europe with his hand-carved wooden dummy, trying to perfect his act and catch a big break. Returning to his room one night he finds in his closet a gaunt teenager, Avrom Amos Poliakov, who was murdered in the Holocaust. He’s now a dybbuk, a spirit with unfinished business, who needs to inhabit a body to take revenge on his killer, and Freddie’s body should do nicely. Freddie, of course, has reasonable objections: he’s in no way prepared to do anyone in, no matter how compelling the reason. Avrom takes up residence anyhow, becoming the voice that Freddie could never quite manage to “throw” and bringing acclaim to his ventriloquist’s act. As Avrom threatens, cajoles, and kvetches Freddie into helping him track his prey and ready himself for the coming showdown, Freddie is torn between sympathy for the young victim, gratitude for his theatrical assistance, and resentment over the crimp Avrom is putting in his love life. But Avrom has a plan, and once Freddie has played his part, he will sit back and enjoy the climax in which Avrom brings Colonel Gerhard Junker-Strupp to justice without ever lifting a finger—wooden or human—against him. It takes some elasticity of imagination to believe that Freddie’s audiences, still reeling from the recent war, find the dybbuk’s onstage stories of Nazi atrocity so entertaining, and even the more light-hearted lines from Freddie’s schtick often fall flat. Nonetheless, this dark parable hurtles toward the culminating moment of vengeance, transforming the reluctant two-bit showman into a righteous mensch, proud at last “to play the mouthpiece. To bear witness.” Despite its flaws, this gritty exploration of a survivor’s impulse toward revenge is an unusual addition to the canon of Holocaust fiction. EB - Copyright 2007 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2007 Gr 6-9-In 1948 Europe, former American bomber pilot Freddie Birch is making a precarious living as a ventriloquist when he encounters young Avrom Amos. The boy is a dybbuk, the spirit of a Jewish youth murdered by the Nazis. He was one of the resistance fighters who helped Freddie escape from a POW camp. The ghost has "unfinished business" with the SS colonel who killed him, and he needs a living body-Freddie's-to accomplish it. With Avrom's spirit sharing his space, The Great Freddie finds that his act improves. The dybbuk's snappy commentary is wildly popular with audiences, and the two begin to get bookings in fancier clubs. However, the spirit refuses to work on shabbes, and he insists that Freddie stand in for him at his bar mitzvah ceremony. Then Avrom begins to change the script, inserting information about his murder and the man who killed him. Since he is incorporeal, his character is revealed almost exclusively through dialogue-a remarkable juxtaposition of sharp, sometimes bitter humor with graphic descriptions of appalling wartime atrocities. Fleischman explores the sensitive topic of anti-Semitism-not just the overt evil of the Nazi system, but also the casual, pervasive bigotry of the period. Even Freddie has to deal with his own deep-seated prejudice. There is a strong emphasis on friendship and justice, and an ultimate affirmation of life and hope. This exciting and thought-provoking book belongs in every collection.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. - Copyright 2007 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 09/01/2007 Motivated, as he explains in his afterword, to create a personal remembrance of the 1.5 million Jewish children killed in the Holocaust, Fleischman pairs Freddie, a struggling, ex-GI ventriloquist, with Avron, the ghost of one such victim, in a short, provocative tale that leavens the tears with laughter. Freddie’s career isn’t exactly taking off as he wanders postwar Europe—until he opens a closet and discovers smart-mouthed Avron, who offers to put a better line of patter into Freddie’s mouth in exchange for help finding a certain murderous SS officer. Countering Freddie’s understandable reluctance with both gags and gut-wrenching war stories, Avron moves in, and Freddie begins to display stunning vocal tricks to ever-larger audiences. Avron then cajoles his host into keeping kosher, and even undergoing an ersatz (or is it?) bar mitzvah. Ultimately, the search takes the two to America, where in a satisfying (if credulity-straining) climax, they find their quarry standing trial for a new crime, and Avron exacts a triumphant revenge for the old ones. The narrative voice here sounds adult, but the talented Fleischman is still both entertaining and thoughtful. Avron’s wisecracking will counterbalance matter-of-fact accounts of Nazi cruelty for young readers, but it’s likely to be older ones who will best appreciate the novel’s eloquent “inner voice” of conscience, which takes on a definite symbolic cast, and the way in which Freddie’s public and private identities shift as the story progresses. - Copyright 2007 Booklist.