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: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Heartwarming for Jewish collections and religious-school settings.


Award-winner Kimmel retells a Jewish fable of greed and generosity.

At Joseph’s weekly Sabbath table, all are welcomed—rich or poor, young or old. Joseph’s neighbor, Judah, also sets a bountiful table each week, but he prefers to invite only important people to his Sabbath meal; he gives his charity to the beggars in the street. Judah chastises Joseph for his excessive hospitality and correctly predicts that he will soon lose all his wealth. A foreboding dream warns Judah that he, too, might lose his fortune and that Joseph will one day count Judah’s money for himself. Judah, shaken, sells his property, buys a large ruby and leaves Tiberias by sea—and loses the jewel, the last of his wealth, in a strong storm. Returning to Tiberias, he approaches the always kind and benevolent Joseph for help. Joseph’s luck has once again changed with a fish he received at market: Cutting it open revealed the ruby Judah lost. As in Marilyn Hirsh’s Joseph Who Loved the Sabbath, illustrated by Devis Grebu (1986), Kimmel reconciles the differing attitudes through a conclusion about the importance of celebrating the Sabbath “with an open door and an open heart.” Blended shades of blues, purples and greens done in watercolor, pen and pastel illuminate the old Israeli scenes integral to the narration.

Heartwarming for Jewish collections and religious-school settings. (Picture book/religion. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5908-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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A sweet original tale with a timeless, though not holiday-specific message (Picture book. 5-7)



A child’s innocent appreciation for life’s small wonders transforms a shopkeeper’s business attitude during the busy selling season of Hanukkah.

The owner of the small toyshop is immediately intrigued with the potential of a large profit if he can sell a peddler’s oversized, elaborately painted dreidel. Ignoring the peddler’s statement that “the miracle of Hanukkah cannot be bought,” the shopkeeper places the new dreidel prominently in the window, attracting the attention of a spoiled girl who demands her father buy it. But the dreidel will not spin for the girl, so she returns it for a refund the next day. An equally arrogant boy buys the dreidel and returns it for the same reason, leaving the shopkeeper mystified. Finally, a poor child enters the shop and lovingly admires the beautiful dreidel as a symbol of Hanukkah. When he is coaxed by the shopkeeper to spin it, the dreidel spins for several minutes, magically changing its letters as it falls to indicate a poignant message. The shopkeeper decides to gift the special dreidel to this poor but respectful boy. Simpson uses familiar European folk-tale motifs, which Bernhard matches with acrylic paintings of an Old World setting; both illustrate how humility outshines greed and arrogance. Backmatter explains the real miracle of Hanukkah and the holiday’s significance as well as rules for playing dreidel.

A sweet original tale with a timeless, though not holiday-specific message (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937786281

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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