This lovely book is a winner on two levels. It introduces the reader to a fascinating period in American Jewish history, while providing an extremely humorous and entertaining story. Based on real members of the author’s family, the story serves as an introduction to the Jewish immigrant experience in America. The venerable Lower East Side of New York is not the setting of this tale; rather it is set in St. Louis in 1919.
Two thieves attempt to steal a new shipment of kosher wine for Passover. Reb Elias Olswanger is the kosher wine seller, who is convinced that the wines being imported from the Holy Land were made from grapes descended from those that the Israelites took out of Egypt with them at the time of the Exodus. The crooks of the title are directed by the ghost of the Pharaoh of the Exodus. The Prophet Elijah and a talking horse are two of the other players. The Yiddishisms of the characters add authenticity to the imaginative events. Striking colorful prints by Paula Goodman Koz are a lively, appropriate complement to the text. Recommended for ages 7 – 12.