Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman

Fleischman approaches the atrocities of the Holocaust from a very different perspective in this tale. The year is 1948, and The Great Freddie, an American GI who has stayed on in Europe after the war, has become a mediocre ventriloquist. He is barely making ends meet when he discovers a dybbuk, a Jewish spirit, in his closet. The spirit, a thirteen year old victim of the Nazis, wants to make a deal. He has a score to settle with the SS officer who killed him, and he would like to use Freddie's act to spread his story. Understandably, Freddie is appalled, but when the dybbuk inhabits Freddie without permission and turns his act into first rate ventriloquy, he succumbs to the dybbuk's plan.
The tale is humorous and introduces Jewish culture and several of its frequently used words, yet Fleischman also paints a realistic picture of the horrors that befell the Jewish children during the Holocaust.
The story can be read on many levels and is an interesting addition to middle school Holocaust literature.

Grades 5-8

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