Saturday, February 23, 2008
The Entertainer and the Dybbuk
Fleischman, Sid. 2008. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk.
The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman won the 2008 Sydney Taylor Book Award in the category of books for older readers. Fleischman won the Newbery in 1987 for The Whipping Boy. Set in the late 1940s, The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is the story of an American ventriloquist, the Great Freddie, who while on his tour of Europe becomes haunted or possessed by the spirit of a Jewish child slain in the Holocaust. This boy, Avrom Amos Poliakov, now a dybbuk or spirit, has unfinished business and he needs this former American soldier's help to be at peace. Now inhabited by this friendly, often sarcastic, mournful soul, his act has become better than ever. The dybbuk is winning the hearts of the crowds. The crowds of course don't realize that this isn't all an act put on by The Great Freddie. He's gone almost overnight from a mediocre-at-best performer to a real crowd-drawing attraction. But being possessed isn't all fun, the dybbuk means business. And he'll stop at nothing to accomplish his goals.
The book is very good, and I definitely recommend it.
First sentence: "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."