Lots of people commit acts of mischief when no one is looking. Moti the mouse secretly commits good deeds.
Moti lives under the kitchen sink in the home of a white, Jewish family, but he sometimes sneaks out to perform a “mitzvah.” The term is a traditional Hebrew word for “commandment,” but it is often loosely construed as a synonym for “an act of kindness,” and here it even takes on the connotation of “a fun children’s game.” Moti finds lost toys and gives them back to their owners. He decorates placemats to help celebrate Shabbat. The book turns each mitzvah into a puzzle for readers. When Moti tosses “scraps and crumbs” to hungry animals, the text asks, “What mitzvah is Moti doing…?” and “How many birds can you find?” Some readers will be frustrated that this is more of a puzzle book than a story. Others will be pleased by the lack of conflict. In this book, mice and cats get along and give one another gifts—mostly cheese. The loose, sketchy pictures of the characters by Knopp-Kilpert are endearing. As collaged in on her painterly, textured backgrounds, they almost look like stickers that children could collect.
While some readers will want a more substantial plot, others will find Moti and his friends charming and even inspiring. They might even get up in the dark of night to perform good deeds. (Picture book. 2-5)