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Describing a different way to give back to the community (and help oneself), this cheery outing should not be confined to...

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)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68115-523-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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As vivid a demonstration of community as readers are likely to find.

Charity and caring for others—the Jewish concept of “tzedakah”—comes full circle in the story of a big sister who demonstrates generosity to a younger sibling through community outreach.

After she learns about tzedakah at the community center, Dalia comes home and creates a tzedakah box to begin saving for the center’s project. She inserts a dollar from her birthday money and tells her curious little brother, Yossi, that the box holds “a big yellow comforter.” With each new donation to the box earned from her gardening chores and lemonade sales, Dalia adds a butterfly bush and a banana cream pie. Yossi’s confusion grows; how can these things fit in what is essentially a piggy bank? Dalia kindly explains how her money, pooled with the other center participants’, will eventually buy all three for a lonely, homebound elderly woman. In joining his sister, Yossi learns that “Tzedakah means… doing the right things. It means thinking of others and giving them what they need.” Dressen-McQueen’s fully developed summer scenes in acrylic and oil pastel provide a vivid complement to the often–page-filling text, their naive, folk quality bringing great quantities of love and warmth to the tale.

As vivid a demonstration of community as readers are likely to find. (author’s note)  (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-378-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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Enjoyable fare for youngsters who already have a concept of the holiday.

The loud, chaotic celebration of Purim and its companion story is recreated in a farm-animal play that results in a surprising development.

After Farmer Max leaves to attend a Purim play, the animals decide to stage their own version. Chicken offers to direct, orchestrating Horse as the King Ahashuerus, Duck as the blushing Queen Esther, bearded Goat as Mordecai, cows as the mooing noisemakers and geese as the audience. Casting a somewhat sensitive Sheep as the evil Haman requires some explanation from Chicken as she retells the holiday’s story through her patient direction. “They aren’t mooing at YOU...They’re mooing at evil Haman.” Still fretting over her role, Sheep retreats off stage to dress in, yes, her wolf’s costume, while a new character, Fox, suddenly appears on the scene with real evil intentions. Confusion quickly moves to realization, with Duck’s bravado leading a flurry of noisy animal antics to scare the fox away before Farmer Max returns with a basket of hamantaschen. Gouache cartoons of wide-eyed, long-lashed characters in muted browns, blacks and tans add enough charm to the required pathos of the text’s circumvented telling for this menagerie’s megillah.

Enjoyable fare for youngsters who already have a concept of the holiday. (Picture books/religion. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-4514-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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