In a very different immigrant tale, Mrs. Kapustin and her two children, Moshe and Shoshi, come to New York from Russia to have a better life. The twist in this tale is that the children bring along a little dragon they found before they left. After a difficult voyage across the ocean, the small family finds nothing but trouble when they land at Ellis Island. Their name is changed, like many immigrants. Now known as the Kaputniks, they travel into the city to find that Papa, who came to America several years before, has disappeared, and the relatives who were supposed to have a thriving restaurant, cheat them out of their small savings and leave the dying business to them. Mrs. Kaputnik and the children are very resourceful and use the dragon to entice people into their shop. The local gangster demands protection money, but the Kaputniks find a way to keep him away. As it turns out, this gangster, “Nick the Stick,” is key to helping them find out what happened to their Papa. Although immigrant stories are almost as plentiful as Holocaust tales, this novel uses fantasy devices such as the dragon and the mysterious disappearance of Mr. Kapustin, to heighten the suspense and give the reader an exciting and unusual tale. Grades 3 – 5.
Susan Dubin was the first librarian honored with a Milken Family Foundation Jewish Educator Award. She is the owner/director of Off-the-Shelf Library Services and library instructional consultant at Valley Beth Shalom Day School in Encino, CA.