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The King of Mulberry Street
Transcript of The King of Mulberry Street
By Donna Jo' Napoli
How would you feel being stuck on a boat, not knowing if your mother was with you, going to an unknown, alien world where you couldn't even speak their language? Well, that is what Beniamino, a nine year old Italian/Jewish boy feels like when he is snuck onto a cargo ship going from Naples, Italy, to the new, wonderful land called America. His mother, or Mamma, as he calls her, wants a better life for her son, and tells him to survive. She knows he can: and he does. She gives him shoes. She says they will pass him off as being rich. During his time on Mulberry Street, or the Italian side of Manhattan, he meets a 12 year old named Gaetano, and they quickly become friends. They also meet Tin Pan Alley, whose real name is Pietro. He pretends to be a beggar but gives the money to his padrone, who is his boss. If he doesn't make 80 cents a day, he is lucky to live. They work together and earn money by selling sandwiches, and Beniamino, or Dom, as he is called by his friends, has plans to go back to Naples. However, after growing friendly with the people around him, he doesn't want to leave. He claims he was happiest sleeping under a bush in Central Park. They all manage to rent a bedroom from Signore Esposito, a widower. She is kind, and reminds Beniamino of Mamma. Does Pietro get killed by his padrone? Does Beniamino go back to Naples or stay in Manhattan? Read the heartwarming book to find out!
Synopsis of the Story
The genre of this book is historical fiction.
The settings of this book vary between Naples, Italy, and Manhattan, New York.
The setting is in the past and the year Beniamino arrives is 1892.
Genre and Settings
Beniamino is a nine year old Jewish boy who lived in Naples with his mother, grandmother, uncles, and cousins. They are very poor. He is brave, smart, and knows how to work well with money.
Gaetano is a 12 year old boy who is also from Naples. His father left him and his mother died when he was born. He is tough, and a good protector.
Tin Pan Alley, or Pietro, lived one block away from Beniamino in Naples with his aunt. She sent him away with a padrone to New York. He plays a triangle and whistles for change.
The theme of this story is to have perseverance. Never give up and always keep your promises. Beniamino kept these in mind, and he and his friends actually profited greatly from it!
Donna Jo' Napoli is the writer of many books like Stones in Water and The Daughter of Venice. Some names in this story, like Grandinetti the storekeeper, are based on real people in her family.They have different jobs, but they were real people. Additionally, her grandfather, Dom, was said to have made money at a very young age, like Beniamino. This is how she set her story based on some facts from her family and fiction.
I rate this book a complete 5 stars. It is realistic, has easy to relate to characters, includes suspenseful moments, and also has beautifully worded descriptions of Beniamino's thoughts on the world around him. Additionally, Napoli includes Italian language like "Magari," which means "it is what it is." In my opinion, this book would be for ages 11 and up because of some mild language and the difficult plot line. Overall, this book is a heartwarming account of a boy coming to America.
Recommendation of Book
These facts aren't really fun, but they are true.
Nearly 12 million immigrants came to the United States between 1870 and 1900.
On January 1, 1892, Annie Moore, a teenager from County Cork, Ireland, was the first immigrant processed at Ellis Island.
"I heard so many languages, even one that sounded sort of like singing, out of the mouths of gaunt men wearing funny quilted jackets in a cigar factory." (Napoli 92) This quote portrays descriptive language and shows the uniqueness of every person and their language in Manhattan.
"I kept running, without thinking, back and forth along the wharf, back and forth, back and forth." (Napoli 128) This quote shows repetition by saying back and forth three times. This also shows the rule of three.
"It was like the difference between the sun and the moon, like Uncle Aurelio said." This quote is a simile because it compares the difference between the sun and the moon.