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The King of Mulberry Street

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  497 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
In 1892, nine-year-old Dom’s mother puts him on a ship leaving Italy, bound for America. He is a stowaway, traveling alone and with nothing of value except for a new pair of shoes from his mother. In the turbulent world of homeless children in Manhattan’s Five Points, Dom learns street smarts, and not only survives, but thrives by starting his own business. A vivid, fascin ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published December 10th 2008 by Yearling (first published October 11th 2005)
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Aug 31, 2008 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm currently reading this to my children since I wanted something a bit more non-fiction-ish for them (and historical fiction is the best I could come up with). So far it's been an engaging story that my kids are really into. We're learning a lot about Jewish culture (the protagonist is a young Jewish boy) and about immigrants in America. We just finished a few chapters on Ellis Island and reading them gave us a chance to talk about the procedures that new arrivals went through as they entered ...more
Mrs. Reed
Apr 04, 2013 Mrs. Reed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidbooks
I chose this book because the New York immigrant experience, especially late 19th into early 20th century. I don't know if this is because of how much I loved An American Tail and Annie when I was little, or because there is some resonance in my genes. That photo from the cover, the Jacob Riis picture of the boys in the alley, I used to stare at in my history textbook, probably in about 6th grade or so. Then in 7th grade I met A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which felt like it had been written about m ...more
Rebecca Heywood
Oct 31, 2011 Rebecca Heywood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Very descriptive, I couldn't put it down. It follows the story of a nine year old Italian Jew to Manhatten, where he is alone and trying to survive on his own and not get owned by a padrone. Hardly any bad language, but graphic. His mother in Italy can be thought of as cruel or desperate, depending on how you think about it. I believe she really thought he would have a better life in America. This was based on a true story, and she really described the type of thinking in New ...more
I choose this book because it looked like a good book but when I previewed it, it sounded like a war book in some was and I love war but it is not about war at all. Historyicul fiction. A whos mom wants him to go to the U.S.A and he does and ends up by himself sleeping in a back ally in a barel. The main character is a sweet little boy who lives by himself and trys hes best to find food for himself and ends up getting beat up a lot for no reason. ones he meats his frined Guoto they become good f ...more
Read this today as it is the book for One Book One Community and the event is this coming Tuesday. Penn Highlands puts on an extraordinary program for 1200 local grade school kids based on a book that they all read before coming to the event. This was a great story to incorporate into the school year and as always, the committee does a fantastic job choosing the book and sharing the story through stations set up throughout the college. If you have kids in grade school, have them read the book. L ...more
Robby Charters
Nov 10, 2015 Robby Charters rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, there should be a new genre added to the list, called "street kids" or "homeless children". It would be a sub-genre to others, such as memoirs and true life experience, for example, Justin Reed Early's Street Child: A Memoir which I've downloaded and plan to read next, Fr. Joe Maier's Welcome to the Bangkok Slaughterhouse, whom I had the privilege of working with in Bangkok; science fiction/cyberpunk, such as my own Pepe; or current or historical fiction, such as Charles Dickens' ...more
Napoli wrote a thrilling story through the eyes of a cunning, driven, brave and upright 9 year old to commemorate her grandfather's passage from Naples, Italy to Manhattan. Beniamino, later known as Dom, is expected to earn a name for himself in America after his mother sends him on his solo journey. He is expected to survive by learning street life as an orphaned immigrant, and ultimately gains street smarts, while still remaining true to his family's roots, teachings and proverbs. Readers witn ...more
Eric Olaizola
Sep 27, 2016 Eric Olaizola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
gripping and heartwarming at the same time, the book provides a terrifying look at life in 1890s New York, but at the same time painted a picture of hope and happiness. Doms mother could be seen as cruel or desperate, but that's where the book excels. I major plot twist near the end was out of the blue, but provided a realistic view of New York. A great read if you enjoy historical fiction or even realistic fiction
Jan 05, 2014 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Donna Jo Napoli has done it again with her novel, "The King of Mulberry Street." Napoli wrote a thrilling story about the journey of young Beniamino, Dom as his, “gangster” friends know him. Dom, a young 9 year old Italian immigrant discovered his role in the city of New York in the late 1800s. Before Dom left his mark in New York, he made marks in his hometown of Naples. His mother sought opportunity for the family by putting young Dom on a boat as a stowaway to gain extra money for the large J ...more
In 1892, life was bleak, people were poor, and struggled every day to survive. At just 9 years-old, Dom was living in Italy with his family...a family who adored him, cared for him, and wanted only the best for him. His mother was his world. But, for whatever reason, Dom's mother thought it best he be sent to America, where life was better. She could only afford passage for one. And so, Dom finds himself alone in New York, trying to survive.

He survives by the skin of his nose, using the wisdom
Rafael Santos
Rafael Santos
Donna Jo Napoli
The King of Mulberry Street

Dona Jo Napoli’s Story of “The King of Mulberry Street” is a very attention grabbing novel, which forces the reader to read straight through. This is the type of novel that causes your pulse to race, and keeps you glued to the book waiting to see what will happen next.
Nine year old Benjamino’s finds his passage in to America on a ship that carries away from the securities of a poor but close extended family and their epigrams. Th
Oak Lawn Public Library - Youth Services
Lexile Level: 560

Pages: 256

Summary: When nine-year-old Dom’s mother smuggles him aboard a ship bound for America, he expects to find her hiding elsewhere on the ship. When she doesn't appear, he sets about following her instructions to survive: watch, learn, get an education, and become successful.
In 1890s New York, a padrone was necessary for most Italian boys on their own, but Dom’s mother didn't want him to be anyone's slave. Through intelligence, a willingness to work, and a clear understan
Justin Langlois
Nov 15, 2012 Justin Langlois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because it was assigned reading for a 6th Grade English class that I have been asked to cover for the next 3 and 1/2 weeks. I have to admit that it's not a book I would have pulled off the shelf on my own. All I can say is that I'm glad I crossed paths with this novel. I am already a fan of historical fiction and Donna Jo Napoli, so I was pleasantly surprised when I finally got this book in my hands. It tells the amazing voyage of 9 year old "Dom" as he makes his way across the ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Jasveen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I personally thought this book was beautiful. The book follows Beniamino/Dom, a nine year old boy who was sent to America from Napoli, Italy for the good life in the late 1800's. The book covers all aspects of the immigration process at the time, from Ellis Island to the padrones problem. Since it was children's there I didn't expect a lot of depth, but I was wrong. The characters were so three-dimensional. Gaetano was by far my favorite. I loved the way we could see the 'immigrant ego' through ...more
Victoria (thepetitebookblogger)
May 22, 2014 Victoria (thepetitebookblogger) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: social workers never mind scratch that nobody
I don't get why everyone seems to like this book is it just that I'm not a sophisticated reader?the mother is a prostitute and its not like its alluded to she does it twice in the book (1) to get his shoes (2) to have a sailor let her son sneak on a ship heading towards america( and doesn't even say goodbye half of the trip he's wandering around the boat looking for her).goes to america the only reason that he's not handed over to a padrone is because of his shoes.lives on the streets .Befriends ...more
Emilio Pompetti
Sep 16, 2013 Emilio Pompetti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about a boy and his mother leaves him on a cargo ship going to America from Italy. This is in the 1892.When he gets to NYC he is lost but finds his way to mulberry street, and for a couple of nights he sleeps in a barrel. Then after a while he meets a boy who is also an orphan and they become friends they slowly start to make a large profit off selling sandwiches to office workers. after awhile they make enough money to rent a tenement.

I would recommend this book to someone who l
Nine-year-old Beniamino loves his over-crowded, poor but happy life. He knows his mother has trouble because she is an unmarried mother and he has no known father. He realizes the extent of the situation when his mother sneaks him onto a cargo ship to America, by himself. When he reaches America he tries everything he can think of to get back to Napoli, Italy.

He eventually realizes that he will need a ticket to get back on a ship. He starts a small business by purchasing a large sandwich, cuttin
Mar 24, 2008 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
King of Mulberry street is good, but not top of the food chain, December 25, 2007

What would you do if you were stranded in a country where you didn't speak the language or know anyone? Well the King of Mulberry street is about an opportunistic kid who faces these as well as many challenges. This book was a good story but didn't really have too much suspense or action in it. I didn't have trouble putting it down but wouldn't rate is as poorly written. I can see how it could get young adult reade
Nolan Carroll
Sep 11, 2013 Nolan Carroll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The King of Mulberry Street" is about a 9 year old boy named Dom. He was a stowaway from Napoli going to New York City. The minute he arrived at the city he needed to find a place to stay. He found a street full of kids like him. Dom made friends living on the street and they try to raise enough money to send Dom back to Napoli.

In my opinion, I think this book has an amazing story to tell. The author did an excellent job recreating New York City during 1892. I read this book in two sitting beca
Jen Evans
May 07, 2009 Jen Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-library
This was a very interesting book about how life may have been for immigrants coming to America. A young boy gets stowed away on a cargo ship by his mother. He thinks that she is somewhere on the ship going with him to America. When he arrives he can't find her and believes that her not being there must have been a mistake. He is determined to go back to Italy the first chance he gets. He ends up sleeping in a barrell. He makes a couple of friends and they end up setting up a sandwhich selling bu ...more
May 18, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It is a juvenile fiction book, but I enjoyed it as an adult. I have wondered as I have looked at census records and ship records, how young children came over to America without their parents. This was a great historical fiction read, that takes place in late 1800s NYC. It follows a 9 year old Italian Jew, whose mother paid for his passage on a cargo ship, and sent him off to America on his own. How did these children make it? The importance of learning English. Honesty, integ ...more
Oct 31, 2008 Ginger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is based loosely (very loosely) on Donna Jo Napoli's grandfather(s), and consequently, it seems like that connection has made her put on rose-colored glasses. The protagonist’s voice doesn't sound authentic to me. He has no flaws, other than being ignorant of American ways and the English language, which do not make for very interesting flaws. It feels like she has romanticized her characters, based on her “relation” to them. Still, it was an enjoyable read, and I was cheering for Dom ...more
Nine year old Benjamino, a poor boy in 1892 Italy, is put on a ship by his mother and sent to America, not knowing his mother couldn't afford a second ticket for her. He arrives in New York City and struggles to survive, getting robbed by thugs and living in garbage cans in the slums. Gradually he adapts to his new life as he falls in with other street kids and develops a business selling sandwiches, trying to raise enough money to send for his mom. A really interesting adventure story about a l ...more
Feb 25, 2010 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I usually find Napoli depressing, but I liked this well written, well researched historical fiction novel based on her paternal grandfather who immigrated from Italy. Yes, it was somewhat depressing but overall it was upbeat and optimistic. The idea of a nine year old earning his fortune by selling sandwiches reminded me of the Creepy Crawler Plastigoop set I got for Christmas one year. My brother, Norm, turned it into a business selling Creep Crawlers at school :) Capitalism at its finest! At l ...more
Jeni Enjaian
This was my favorite Napoli book, hands down. I loved the fact that she built on her own history and expanded it with appropriate historical license. The narrator's voice and perspective seemed appropriate for his age and situation. It also, in my opinion, is a relatively unique perspective through a compelling, well-written narrative. The ending felt just a bit rushed though. Now that I think about it...many of Napoli's books end with just such a rushed feeling. It leaves the idea that all the ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Shelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fictional story based on a true story about a nine year old boy from Napoli, Italy whose mother ships him off to America to make a better life for himself. We learn what was like to sail so far from home at such a young age all alone and what is was like for an immigrant to enter America through Ellis Island and find his way in a new world. And this new/old world was not like it is today. I found myself intrigued by the ingeniousness of the boy and his friends as they discover ways to survive ...more
As I was reading this story of an immigrant boy fighting at first to merely survive and then to thrive in New York City I was reminded of Horatio Alger's "Ragged Dick." Dom is a kind, likeable character with a strong moral foundation who is determined to succeed despite his unbelievably bleak circumstances. This book had everything; adventure, humor and heartbreak. My only criticism is that the main character's Jewish heritage is emphasized and developed in the beginning of the story and then ba ...more
Nov 01, 2007 GraceAnne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Donna Jo Napoli always writes with fierce attention and intelligence. The King of Mulberry Street is is no exception. She weaves from a deep wellspring of historical research and the most evanescent of family stories the tale of a stowaway, a nine-year-old Italian Jewish boy who comes to New York City alone in 1892, and how he survives and eventually thrives. It is told in the first person by Beniamino, renamed Domenico Napoli at Ellis Island, and it is terrific.
Sep 06, 2008 Marla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story caused my emotions to run high. I loved it but then I was sometimes scared of what would happen next (although it's not a scary book at all). I thought of my own little boy several times as I read it. I can't stand to think now of children going hungry. Such a well-written story. Heard the author speak. She said in her writing she's more interested in portraying why people do things not always what it is they do. Juvenile fiction.
Sep 26, 2008 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on her immigrant grandfather's story and bolstered by research, this book tells an interesting story about how some people "come to America." A YA book, it has a few gritty parts, but overall, a very interesting read. I think it would be an interesting companion to Lord of the Flies. Both tell stories of kids on their own (although there are adults in this book), but they present different outlooks on the situation.
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From her website:

Donna Jo Napoli is both a linguist and a writer of children's and YA fiction.

Donna Jo has five children. She dreams of moving to the woods and becoming a naturalist. She loves to garden and bake bread.

At various times her house and yard have been filled with dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. For thirteen years she had a cat named Taxi, and liked to go outside and call, "Taxi!" to
More about Donna Jo Napoli...

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