The Entertainer and the Dybbuk

The Entertainer and the Dybbuk

by Sid Fleischman


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"Why am I talking to you?" he asked aloud.

"I don't believe in ghosts."

"You want to know the truth," replied the dybbuk,

"Neither do I. But here I am."

Avrom Amos likes to crack jokes. He loves the spotlight. And if he wants something, he knows how to get it. He's just like any other boy, except for one thing: He's a ghost—a dybbuk. During World War Two he'd been murdered by the Nazis, right after he saved the life of a young ventriloquist named Freddie.

Freddie doesn't know it yet, but he's about to return the favor. Because the dybbuk wants revenge, and he knows exactly how to get it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061771408
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Pages: 180
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Sid Fleischman wrote more than sixty books for children, adults, and magicians. Among his many awards was the Newbery Medal for his novel The Whipping Boy. The author described his wasted youth as a magician and newspaperman in his autobiography The Abracadabra Kid. His other titles include The Entertainer and the Dybbuk, a novel, and three biographies, Sir Charlie: Chaplin, The Funniest Man in the World; The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West; and Escape! The Story of The Great Houdini.

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The Entertainer and the Dybbuk

Chapter One

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. After a second glance, The Great Freddie realized it was a child, a long-legged child with the hungry look of a street kid. In the deep shadows the intruder glowed faintly, as if sprayed with moonlight.

"Well, well, howdy," said the ventriloquist, startled. "Waiting for a bus?"

"Waiting for you, Mr. Yankee Doodle, sir."

The entertainer, thin as a cornstalk from his native Nebraska, grinned and shucked his overcoat. Someone's idea of a prank, was this? "If you're under the notion that all Yanks are millionaires and an easy touch, you may go through my pockets. I'm just about broke. Tapped out. Down to bedrock."

"Feh! Who needs your money?" asked the intruder. "I once saved your life."

"You don't say."

"Would I lie to you?"

"You're a mouthy kid," the lanky American remarked. "I've never laid eyes on you."

"Want to bet, Sergeant?"

Sergeant? The Great Freddie's cat-green eyes narrowed as he peered into the closet. Confound this pest. How had he known that Freddie T. Birch, second-rate ventriloquist, had been in uniform? The big war in Europe had ended three years before. It was now 1948. Freddie's army haircut had long ago grown out. Now in his early twenties, he parted his hair in the middle and slicked it back,shiny as glass. What had tipped off this kid?

"Lucky guess," the entertainer said finally. What was it with the boy's eyes? They were unnaturally bright, as if lit from within. "Who are you, a kid actor from one of the theaters? I know makeup when I see it. You're painted up white as Caesar's ghost."

"I am a ghost," replied the intruder.

"Don't make me laugh."

"Am I cracking jokes, Mr. Yank?"

The Great Freddie, growing impatient, wanted to brush his teeth and tumble into bed. "Go haunt someone else. I can see your sharp elbows. Ghosts are wisps of fog."

"Sorry to disappoint you," said the intruder.

"Anyway, pal, I've never heard of a ghost in short pants."

"Excuse me, there are lots of us. Did they keep it a secret from you in the army? The Holocaust? Adolf Hitler—may he choke forever on herring bones! You didn't hear he told his Nazi meshuggeners, those lunatics, 'Soldiers of Germany, have some fun and go murder a million and a half Jewish kids? All ages! Babies, fine. Girls with ribbons in their hair, why not? Boys in short pants, like Avrom Amos Poliakov? That's me, and how do you do? No, I wasn't old enough for long pants. Me, not yet a bar mitzvah boy when the long-nosed German SS officer shot me and left me in the street to bleed to death. So, behold, you see a dybbuk in short pants, not yet thirteen but older'n God."

The Great Freddie took a deep breath. He was dimly aware that Hitler, the sputtering dictator with the fungus of a mustache, had sent children to his slaughterhouses. But so many?

Ugly vote by vote, the Germans had elected a lunatic to run their country. Freddie wasted no pity on the once-proud survivors who had voted him into power. They had drowned democracy like a kitten, invaded Poland and France and ignited World War II. Now Germany lay bombed into a rubble of fallen roofs and shattered lives. Freddie had volunteered to do his part.

The former bombardier cleared his mind of the war. "So you're a ghost in short pants."

"A dybbuk."

"A what?"

"I said, a dybbuk. A spirit. With tsuris. That means trouble in my native language, Mr. Far-Away America. Think of me as a Jewish imp. I need to possess someone's body for a while, rent free. You're kind of tall and skinny, but I won't complain."

The ventriloquist cocked an eye. "Has anyone told you you're a sassy kid or dybbuk or whatever you are?"

"When you dodge Nazi soldiers for years, why not? When you hide in sewers and then knock around with dybbuks for more years, your tongue sharpens like an ice pick. You'd prefer baby talk?"

"I'd prefer you attach yourself to someone else," said the ventriloquist. "I've got no time for a snotty spirit hanging on to me like a leech. I have enough trouble of my own."

"And no wonder, Mr. Entertainer," said the dybbuk. "I caught your act. You move your lips like a carp."

"And I'll bet you snuck in the theater."

"Why not?" replied the dybbuk. "Don't I come from a family of actors?"

The ventriloquist wondered if the glass of dinner wine he'd had after his last performance had gone to his head. "Why am I talking to you?" he asked aloud. "I don't believe in ghosts."

"You want to know the truth," replied the dybbuk, "neither do I. but here I am, fit as a fiddle."

The Great Freddie kicked the closet door shut. He was hallucinating, wasn't he? Dreaming on his feet?

The ventriloquist pulled off his jacket and patent-leather shoes. Early the next morning he had a train to catch. He had been booked for a week across the border in Italy. He brushed his teeth, checked the sheets for postwar bedbugs, and fell into bed.

"Sleep tight," said the dybbuk through the closet door.

The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. Copyright © by Sid Fleischman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Entertainer And The Dybbuk (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
David_Acevedo More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read.Sid Fleisghman has done it again.I have read another book by him called "The Whipping Boy".He hasn't failed me yet.The book is about a ventriloquist, The Great Freddie, stumbles upon a dybbuk.A what you might ask?.A dybbuk is a Jewish spirit that glows as if struck with moonlight. The dybbuk turns out to be Avrom Amos. Avrom was killed during World War 2.He possesses The Great Freddie as part of his diabolical scheme to avenge the guy that killed him as well as other Jewish kids like his sister.You have to read the book to see what happens in the end. I recommend all of my friends to read this book as well as adults.This is a unique book.I love that this was different than most books.You don't see books about a dybbuk.I like the plot of the story too.Who would think to write a book about a dybbuk.What made the author want to write a book about a dybbuk anyways.I would like to read "The 13th Floor".It sounds interesting just by reading the title.I would also like to read "The Scarebird".It looks like the book is about a scarecrow because a scarecrow scares away crows which are birds.I know you will like the book.Enjoy.
mayaspector on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I think of Sid Fleischman¿s books, I think ¿ humor. This one is a little different. It certainly has its entertaining elements, but the underlying story is serious.Freddie is a ventriloquist. Unfortunately, not a very good one. A solider in World War II, Freddie hangs around Europe after the war to ply his trade. One day a ghost shows up in the closet. It¿s the ghost of a Jewish boy killed by Nazis, who is looking for revenge. Or perhaps ¿justice¿ is a better word. He becomes a dybbuk, a spirit who inhabits a living body. Freddie¿s. Freddie doesn¿t really know much about Jews, but he gets some lessons pretty quickly. He gets one more thing ¿ the ability to throw his voice without moving his lips, because the voice is the dybbuk¿s, not his own. This is historical fiction with an unusual slant.
lnommay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Booklist (September 1, 2007 (Vol. 104, No. 1))Grades 6-9. 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.Kirkus Review starred (August 1, 2007)Amidst the plethora of mostly depressing Holocaust children's and YA literature, Fleischman introduces an ingenious approach to the topic and issues. In post-WWII Europe, The Great Freddie, an American gentile who is a mediocre ventriloquist, performs in clubs around the continent. Freddie becomes possessed by a dybbuk (the Jewish ghost of a boy, Avrom Amos, with an unfinished mission). Avrom, not yet 13, was brutally murdered by a Nazi bounty hunter. Sweet revenge is the mission and Avrom intends on achieving it through Freddie's body and voice as he takes over the puppet act in order to publicly search for his murderer in each new city they play. Freddie's refusal, then reluctance, soon turns to dependence as the dybbuk's voices for the act make Freddie appear as a magical ventriloquist, never moving his lips and even drinking water during the act. Great success leads to better clubs and eventually back to America, where both Freddie and the dybbuk come to a mutual understanding upon finding the ex-Nazi in question. While the story incorporates a continual humorous banter between Freddie and the dybbuk, it is precisely their relationship that brings out themes of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and, in particular, the senseless methodical killing of children in hiding by bounty hunters for the price of a few coins each. Quick, creative, clever and thoroughly entertaining. (author's note) (Fiction. 10-15)
anniecase on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure how I'll remember this book in years to come. On some level, it's an accessible read about the Holocaust and possibly a good jumping-off point for parents and their children, but the subject matter is almost too terrifying. The story didn't always hang together for me, either, although the writing was solid.
taramatchi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A cute story, not heavy with details about the holocaust. A story about revenge. It was a fast read.
skstiles612 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first picked up this book because it had a ventriloquist dummy on the cover. I was not sure what a dybbuk was but learned that it was the equivalent of a Jewish Ghost. This is the story of a ventriloquist who is not very successful. That is until he returns to his room one night and finds someone waiting. He finds out the someone is a dybbuk. He wants something from the Ventriloquist. He needs to inhabit his body in exchange he will help him. Against the entertainer's wishes the dybbuk enters his body and soon begins to speak for the dummy. They become a hit. The dybbuk needs the help of the entertainer to track down someone from his past. It seems the dybbuk, when alive was a young boy named Avrom Amos Poliakov. When is was alive he and his sister Sulka were hiding from the SS officers who took great pleasure in hunting down Jewish children, bagging them and then killing them. Avrom watched helplessly as his sister was poisoned and died. Avrom was eventually shot by the same officer. As a dybbuk he has unfinished business. Find the SS officer who now lives as a Jewish victim and get revenge.I loved this book. The mystery of why the dybbuk was possessing the entertainer and for how long kept me reading. As I neared the end I was on the edge of my seat to see what the dybbuk would do. I was very pleased with the way the book ended. About the time I think I have heard all of the things the Nazis did to the Jews I learn something new. This was based on historical fact. The author did a wonderful job of telling it like it was and in a most respectful way. He let the dybbuk and his humor tell the story. I can't wait to recommend this now that I truly understand what this book is all about
bostonbibliophile on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A terrific, fast-moving and *moving* young adult novel about a the spirit of a Jewish child killed in the Holocaust, who takes possession of a ventriloquist and goes out for revenge against the SS officer who killed him and his sister. Sounds menacing but it's a lively, engaging, quick read that I think most people would enjoy.
bkladyatl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent book. Freddie is a struggling ventriliquist in post war Europe. He is haunted by a dybbuk (jewish spirit) who wants revenge for his death and that of his sister by a ss officer.
ohioyalibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting premise, and a very easy read for such a heavy topic. The author said he wanted to pay tribute not only to the suffering of the Jews, but to their uplifting sense of humor. and I think he succeeds in this. The premise is that a Jewish spirit, a dybbuk, possesses a ventriloquist, talking as his dummy. He manages to work on some unfinished business in this way, namely, finding the SS man who murdered him and getting revenge.
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TYMAXMOM More than 1 year ago
My son really enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Austin Feltrinelli 11/12/09 The book that I read was called The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. The author of this book is the Newbery Medalist Sid Fleisghman. The genre of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is more along the lines of historical fiction. Like many other readers I also enjoyed The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. Another book review about this story that I found interesting stated that "there's nothing "usual" about this little book. Like so many things in life the story contains mystery, beauty, enchantment, and horror". This was a great analogue of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is a great story about a Jewish boy who was killed in the Holocaust and how he now seeks vengeance on the German SS Officer who has killed his sister and himself. The Jewish boy has become a dybbuk in his afterlife and has pocessed an American ventriloquist to get revenge on the German Officer and meanwhile helping the ventriloquist with his act to become famous. The main characters of this story are Avrom Amos the dybbuk, Freddie the ventriloquist, and Officer Gerhard Junker-Strupp the German SS Officer. The main setting of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk takes place in Paris. This is where Freddie has many of his shows and where he lives. I thought that this was a great book and that kids of all ages should read it. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk is a perfect book for someone who likes a good mystery but with somewhat of a scary twist. This is a great historical fiction story that has a good-feeling storyline and ending. Everyone should go out and get themselves a copy of The Entertainer and the Dybbuk.
Guest More than 1 year ago
an enterainer gets a 2nd soil and get a new act and becumes famuse. i tought it was a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i got this book at the school library becasue we had to pick out a book from a time period... this book talks about the is sad and funny!! it talks about a boy form the halocaust and him perfroming with a dummy! i reccommend this book to anyone who has learned about the halocaust... the first couple of chapters are not AS exciting but important !!! so read