Maddie, a young mouse, loses her shyness when she realizes that she can make others laugh.
She sees the joy on Grandma’s friends’ faces as Giggles the Mitzvah Clown performs at their senior home. He includes Maddie as he makes balloon hats, entertains with juggling, songs, and dances, and, most importantly, talks with everyone. She asks: “Can shy mice become mitzvah clowns?” and Giggles assures her that anyone can learn. Initially mostly gray-toned, the paintings with collage elements include more and more bits of color as Giggles introduces Maddie to the tools of the trade (balloons, rainbow wig, red nose), changing to full color as she takes on her new role. She dons a red wig, pink tutu, and purple, squeaking shoes, names herself “Squeakers,” and begins her visits. Her confidence buoyed by her activities in disguise, she finally makes the biggest change of all: she speaks as Maddie herself to Grandma’s friends. What seems like a didactic story improves along the way as the engaging illustrations involve readers and Maddie’s transformation takes place. In real life, young people (usually teens) can learn to be mitzvah clowns and bring joy to others in this special way. This activity and other ways to do good deeds are described in “A Note to Families,” but no specific references are provided.
Describing a different way to give back to the community (and help oneself), this cheery outing should not be confined to its Jewish context. (Picture book. 5-7)