Feivel's Flying Horses

by Heidi Smith Hyde

Other authorsJohanna van der Sterre (Illustrator)
Book, 2010



Call number

E 500 HYD



Minneapolis, MN : Kar-Ben Pub., c2010.


A Jewish immigrant who is saving money to bring his wife and children to join him in America creates ornate horses for a carousel on Coney Island, one for each member of his family.

Media reviews

Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, February/March 2010, Vol. 29, No. 3
One of the lesser-known stories of Jewish immigrants in America is that they were among the foremost carvers of wooden carousel horses. This picture book portrays in lively words and illustrations the story of one of them, a woodcarver named Feivel, who sadly leaves his wife and children behind in
Show More
the old country while he makes the voyage to America in hopes of a better life for all of them. Working constantly to earn enough for his family’s passage, Feivel is treated by his cousin to a trip to Coney Island, where his amazement is reflected by page after page of fluid, dramatic scenes of Coney Island’s many wonders. The wooden carousel horses resonate the most with Feivel and when he sees a sign advertising for an experienced wood carver, he applies and gets the job. Each of the magnificent horses Feivel creates is fashioned with his family in mind so that a horse with a “long, golden mane as bright as sunshine” is named Goldie for his wife while another whose “speed and power made him stand out” is painted a “regal blue” in honor of Feivel’s proud oldest son, Avram. It takes three years for the carousel to be completed and through all of that time, Feivel yearns for his family, which he knows is changing and growing up without him. And despite his pride in the beauty of the carousel, it isn’t until his family is able to join him in America that he rides the carousel whose circle is now complete. A historical note explains how Jewish woodcarvers, whose skills had been developed in Europe making synagogue decorations, migrated to America at the same time that the carousel industry was flourishing. Hyde’s writing is a smooth blend of the historical and the fictional, written with much visual detail and a sense of pathos for the separation of immigrant families. Keeping it all upbeat and not too sentimental are van der Sterre’s paintings, done in a muted palette that conveys action, setting, and theme very attractively. The Rose Horse by Deborah Lee Rose (Harcourt Brace, 1996) tells a similar story. Hyde and van der Sterre also collaborated on Mendel’s Accordion (Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2007). Recommended with enthusiasm. Category: n/a. 2010, Kar-Ben/Lerner, 32pp., $17.95. Ages 7 to 10.
Show Less

User reviews

LibraryThing member efried5
21. “Feivel’s Flying Horses” by Heidi Smith Hyde was a wonderful story. The writing is engaging as it takes readers through Feivel’s journey to save enough money to bring his family to America. The plot is suspenseful, as the reader watched Feivel carve the carousel horses for three years,
Show More
hoping hat when the carousel is finished, it will raise enough money to send for his family. I would have this story in my classroom because it pushes readers to think historically about how people would travel to America to seek opportunity for their families over seas. The main message for the reader to take away from this story is to be resourceful in finding ways to provide for those you love and that hard work and patience conquers all.
Show Less
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
When Feivel immigrates to the United States, the Jewish wood carver thinks only of earning the money necessary to bring his wife Goldie and his four children over to join him. Settling in New York, he is soon hard at work as a furniture maker. But when his cousin Mikhail takes him to Coney Island
Show More
for a treat, and he sees a sign by the carousel advertising for an experienced wood carver, he soon gets into a slightly different line of work. Inspired by his family, he creates gorgeous carved horses for his new employer, dreaming of the day that his family, whose names he carves into some of the horses, can ride the carousel with him...

Like so many of author Heidi Smith Hyde's picture-books, Feivel's Flying Horses illuminates an aspect of Jewish history that may be unfamiliar to many readers, young or old. I had no idea that Jewish woodcarvers were central to the booming carousel business of late 19th/early 20th-century America. Feivel's story is poignant and ultimately heartwarming, and the accompanying artwork from illustrator Johanna van der Sterre, who also collaborated with Hyde on Mendel's Accordian, is expressive and appealing. I appreciated the afterword, which gives more information about some of the famous wood carvers who worked in the carousel business. The source that Hyde listed, Gilded Lions and Jeweled Horses: The Synagogue to the Carousel, Jewish Carving Traditions, sounds absolutely fascinating! This one is recommended to carousel lovers young and old, and to anyone seeking children's stories about immigrants and/or with a Jewish cultural background.
Show Less



Similar in this library

Page: 0.2503 seconds