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THE MITZVAH MAGICIAN by Linda Elovitz Marshall


by Linda Elovitz Marshall & illustrated by Christiane Engel

Age Range: 3 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7613-5655-4
Publisher: Kar-Ben

Whenever Gabriel the great magician commands “Presto Magico,” a small disaster occurs.

His magic wand is his tool of choice to empty a glass and make his sister disappear. But to achieve these ends, he knocks over the glass and pokes his sister. Mom gives him a time out and sets him to thinking about using his magic to do mitzvot, or good deeds. He decides that his magic needs some "Jewish words," so he comes up with “One-wish! Two-wish! Jew-wish!” as his new mantra. He carefully cleans the mess in the kitchen, puts his toys away and sets the table for snack time. With waves of his wand and his new magic words, he astonishes his mother with the amazing transformation and a new purpose for his magic. Marshall evokes gentle humor in this tale of a very believable little boy whose infatuation with a new toy leads to overzealous enthusiasm followed by remorse and creative atonement. The introduction of key Yiddish words (in both singular and plural) is accomplished seamlessly and serves to stress the universality of this family’s experiences rather than emphasizing any cultural differences. (Though it's too bad the text does not correctly cite the language as Yiddish, instead of "Jewish.") Engel’s brightly hued, delightfully detailed illustrations ably capture the action while maintaining a slightly skewed playfulness that is enhanced by the casual typeface, coloring and spacing of the text.

Abracadabra! Lovely magic indeed. (Picture book. 3-8)