If your child hasn’t read any of Sid Fleischman’s books, I suggest you do something about it. His incredibly inventive, subtly humorous books are colorful and wonderful. Check out one of his many available on audiobook.
My favorite book of Fleischman’s is The Whipping Boy (read by Kerry Shale). The main character, Jeremy, is the whipping boy to Prince Brat. That is to say, each time the prince earned a punishment; it was given to Jeremy because it was forbidden to lay a hand upon royalty.
As you may infer by his name, the prince earns his whippings on a regular basis. When Jeremy has had enough and runs away, he ends up dragging the prince with him. I used this book with my reading groups and it yielded amazing discussions about fairness, medieval times, and character studies.
The White Elephant is a novel that my son was lucky enough to read as an advance reader. Run-Run, a boy who is an elephant trainer in old Siam is “gifted” with a cursed white elephant. An elephant this rare is not allowed to work, so Run-Run must spend all of his time caring for it. This is lovely tale of friendship and loyalty. The pace is somewhat slow, but the story is worth it.
The Entertainer and the Dybbuk (narrated by Banna Rubinow) tells the tale of ex-sergeant Freddie T. Birch and his post-World War II ventriloquist act. When he is possessed by the spirit of a Jewish boy who was killed by Nazis, his act improves, but his life is no longer his own. Warning: for slightly older readers due to references to Nazi cruelties.
“it is obvious that the author enjoyed writing about Houdini and the subject of magic”
Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini (read by the author and Taylor Mali) offers anecdotes to tell the story of the world’s greatest escape artist. Fleischman, a former magician, offers insights and interesting information for readers. When reading the book, it is obvious that the author enjoyed writing about Houdini and the subject of magic. As a young girl, I adored magic and devoured everything about Houdini. His life is fascinating and exciting and, as told by Fleischman, spellbinding.
By the Great Horn Spoon! (read by full cast) takes a young man and his butler to California during the Great Gold Rush. This one is funny, suspenseful, and a joy to read.
Jim Ugly is another book that I used in my literature groups. Jim Ugly is a wolfish looking dog that belonged to young Jake’s father. In 1894 Nevada, Jake and Jim Ugly search for Jake’s assumed-dead father.
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