cover image Feivel's Flying Horses

Feivel's Flying Horses

Heidi Smith Hyde, , illus. by Johanna van der Sterre. . Kar-Ben, $17.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-7613-3959-5

The team responsible for Mendel's Accordion (2007) again shines a light on a small but significant corner of the late 19th-century Jewish immigrant experience. Feivel, like many immigrants, has come to America alone, with dreams of making enough money to send for his family to follow. In the Old Country, Feivel carved magnificent arks for synagogues; on the Lower East Side, his talent is put to more prosaic use, creating furniture and the occasional ladies' comb. But on a trip to Coney Island, Feivel discovers a new calling as a carver of carousel horses (a historical note offers information about Feivel's real-life counterparts). One could argue that Hyde and van der Sterre put too much gloss on the immigrant experience: readers get little sense of Feivel's inner life, and the ink and watercolor pictures make the Lower East Side and Coney Island look like they've been subjected to a Jewish mother's relentless scrubbing. But once the story shifts to the carousel workshop, and the elaborate, lyrical horses take center stage, the redemptive powers of faith, family, and creativity coalesce into a touching tale. Ages 5–9. (Mar.)