The King of Mulberry Street

by Donna Jo Napoli

In 1892, nine-year-old Dom becomes a stowaway aboard a ship sailing from Italy to... read more

In 1892, nine-year-old Dom becomes a stowaway aboard a ship sailing from Italy to America. All alone, Dom pines for his mother, who he is sure intended to travel with him but was unavoidably left behind. As a Jewish child stranded alone in New York City, Dom must scramble to find food and shelter. At the same time, he tries to avoid the dangers presented by the corrupt padroni , adults who provide immigrant boys with passage and basic necessities, and then force them to beg to pay off an inflated debt. In an alliance with two other street boys, Dom begins buying sandwiches, and then dividing and reselling them for a profit in the Wall Street area. Despite setbacks and hard lessons, the trio eventually develops a money-making business. At the same time, Dom must face the reality that his mother intentionally sent him off on his own, wanting to give him a better life, even if it meant a life without her. Donna Jo Napoli created Dom’s fictional story out of elements of her grandfathers’ experiences, as well as her research into the history of other young Italian immigrants. (Ages 10–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2006

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