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You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue... More

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Author: Sid Fleischman

Illustrator: Tim Jessell, cover

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Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,

Material: paperback

Summary: Freddie T. Birch, aka "The Great Freddie," was not so great. In fact, he was a lousy ventriloquist. His lips moved and his jokes were stale. As he's preparing for a show in Vienna, Austria, the ghost of Avrom Amos, a young boy killed by the Nazis, introduces himself as a Dybbuk (a troubled spirit). Avrom, having saved then sergeant Freddie's life, wanted a favor in return. Despite his uneasiness and refusal, Avrom possessed Freddie's body in search of Colonel Gerhard Junker-Strupp, of the Nazi SS. This is a ghost story that builds on events in World War II Germany. This story is sophisticated enough to interest teens who struggle and read at a lower reading level. High Interest / Low Readability

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book, reluctant reader, remedial reader

Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 13; read yourself: 10 and up

Interest Level: 10 and up

Reading Level: 3.7

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: I loved this book. I wasn't sure at first, but by the middle of the second chapter I was completely into it. Both Freddie and Avrom grow as the story moves on. There is an incredible amount of history packed in this slim volume

Pros: Avrom grabs readers just as he did Freddie the Great. This is a poignant story with an uplifting finish and some light moments too.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is an absolute must read for kids who know nothing about World War II.

If You Liked This Book, Try: A LUCKY CHILD: A Memoir Of Surviving Auschwitz As A Young Boy   HANA's SUITCASE ON STAGE   WAR KIDS 1941-1945; WW II Through the Eyes of Children

Educational Themes: This is historical fiction. You can get a lot of lesser-known stories and details about life in Germany under the Nazis, as well as post-World War II life in Europe. There are also some great characters study opportunities with Freddie, Avrom, and Polly.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book to the Reading Tub, Inc. This is an unsolicited donation.

Literary Categories: Fiction - historical fiction, 1940s, ghost story, Judaism

Date(s) Reviewed: April 2013

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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