cover image Earth to Andrew O. Blechman

Earth to Andrew O. Blechman

Jane Breskin Zalben. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (150pp) ISBN 978-0-374-31916-8

Zalben's latest novel concerns an aspiring fourth grade comedian whose hero is Henny Youngman. Andrew learned about Youngman from Mr. Pearlstein, an old vaudevillian who lives in the apartment upstairs. Andrew and Mr. Pearlstein make a deal: Mr. Pearlstein will teach Andrew all of his routines, and in return the boy will prepare Mr. Pearlstein for the Bar Mitzvah that the old man never had. Then Andrew learns that Mr. Pearlstein has asked his grandmother for a date--What if they get married? Zalben's story has an interesting premise, but Andrew's character is not genuine enough for credibility. Also, since most of the book's humor depends on delivery, its appeal is somewhat lost on the printed page. While a book depicting realistic Jewish youngsters would be welcome, Zalben's strained efforts have produced disappointing results. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)