Monday, January 11, 2010

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

This is a marvelous children's chapter book published by Tundra Books, who sent it to me for review.

My reason for requesting it was that it had a dragon in it. But it also has two very important messages for children.

Shoshi, Moshe, their mother, and their pet dragon, Snigger, all move from a very tiny Russian village to New York - where their father has come to start them a new life in America. The discussion of the difficulty they had at Ellis Island and entering the states as well as their lack of English and a communication problem are very realistic and will teach your child about a piece of history that my grandparents lived through. They were Ivan and Marija. They became John and Mary. So, too, do the children and their mother end up with a name change...

Shortly after they arrive, they find that father is missing and the remaining "partner" steals all their money. So they have a vacant building and no visible means of support.

Mother believes they need to continue as a restaurant and cleans the place up and starts making Matzo balls. Of course, if they cook too long, they make good baseballs... And with Snigger helping provide the cooking flame, they have some funny problems.

Then they find out about Nick the Stick - a gangster who wants a piece of the action. If they pay him, they have nothing left.

So how will they resolve this? While that problem is fermenting along, a Russian comes along that wants the dragon and it gets even more complicated!

It's a good read, I'd recommend it. And it teaches young adults about some of the real challenges in the world.

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