I’ve read a book or three by Sid Fleischman; he’s got at least one Newbery, and he does a mean adventure story. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk, however, is unlike anything else of his that I’ve read–possibly, it’s unlike anything else, period. A dybbuk is a Jewish spirit capable of possessing the living, which is exactly what Avrom Amos, murdered by the Nazis and seeking revenge, proceeds to do. His chosen vessel is one Freddie, formerly an American GI, now a ventriloquist bouncing around Europe a few years after the end of WWII. The dybbuk wants revenge on his Nazi murderer; Freddie needs a way to stop moving his lips during his ventriloquist act. The unlikely partnership ends up helping them both.
Here’s the thing about this one. I thought it was fascinating and hilarious; I’m not sure kids in its intended age range, however, are going to fully appreciate it. On the other hand, I’d recommend it to a slew of adults, so I guess it’s up to you. I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Freddie’s initial search for someone to perform an exorcism for him; it may help you decide.
A taxi pulled up at last. Freddie leaned forward and told the driver to find him a Jew.
“Any particular Jew?” asked the driver.
“There’s more than one?”
“A few are coming back.”
You see? Fleischman specifically set out, he said, to incorporate the Jewish sense of humor into a book about the Holocaust. I’d say he succeeded. You’ll have to tell me what you think!