Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mrs. Kaputnik's Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium by Rona Arato

Treat yourself to a visit to the wackiest restaurant ever!Ten-year-old Shoshi and her eight-year-old brother, Moshe, arrive in New York in 1898 from Russia with their mother and Snigger, the baby dragon that saved them from an attack by Cossack soldiers. Five years earlier, their father had also come to New York to make his fortune, but no one has heard from him since. Through a series of adventures and misadventures, Shoshi and Moshe use their wits to navigate through New York City's Lower East Side, making new friends and even a few foes: Salty, the seaman who helps the family smuggle Snigger through Ellis Island; Aloysius P. Thornswaddle, carnival barker extraordinaire; Dingle Hinglehoffer, pitcher for the Brooklyn Slobbers; and the mysterious Man in the Black Cape. With the help of Snigger, they set out to solve the mystery behind their father's disappearance, helping to free the Lower East Side from the tyrannical rule of gangster Nick the Stick along the way. Mrs. Kaputnik's Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium is a colorful tale that blends history and fantasy with a journey of discovery, adventure, and fun.

I received this book for free from Tundra Books through

This book was so cute! Unexpectedly filled with sometimes unknown to me Yiddish, this a really fun children's book starring a Russian family trying to make their way in America. Shoshi and Moshe come to America with their mother, looking to find the father they've lost and possibly their little bit of the American dream. I haven't read a lot of books focused on early immigrants to America, certainly none starring children, but I think this tale shows all the excitement, fear, and confusion that's involved with moving to a new place. Combine those more mundane worries with the two of them working to keep their dragon under wraps and it's just a very unique story.

And when they're finally settling into American life that uniqueness doesn't go away. All of the characters that Arato works into her story are very different, and even as supporting men and women, they don't fade into the background. From child 'hoodlums' to circus barkers, the whole neighbor is ready to come together in protection of themselves, their livelihood, the dragon that's made its on place in their hearts. I found myself cheering for everyone throughout this book and I'm really happy that I got a chance to review it, if for nothing more than the fact that I now have the ability to recommend it to others.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up. A fun children's book, don't miss out on this cultural journey with a twist!

Series - None