Stranger Danger

Corgi Bks. (Mr. Mensch and His Magical Meshugenahmobile). Sept. 2020. 66p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781944589400.
Gr 3-5–In what appears to be the first installment in a series, Mr. Mensch takes a group of fourth graders in his Jewish Sunday School class on a trip through time in his magical “Meshugenahmobile” to teach them a lesson about being welcoming to strangers. Through visiting a historical version of Ellis Island with their classmates, the young scholars learn to be welcoming of a new student to their class who they had previously rejected. Mr. Mensch’s antics are comical and quickly engage the class. While the diverse cast includes students of various races, the large group will likely have to develop personality traits as the series evolves. The illustrations show Mr. Mensch’s costumes and his vehicle in all their different iterations throughout the story. The book kicks off with a glossary page, which provides definitions for Yiddish words used within the text. The title of this page, “Glossary,” with no other clarifying text, leaves it to the reader to understand that the terms are Yiddish. Because of this, the material will be most useful to readers who are looking to deepen their understanding of their own Jewish faith, rather than for those who are looking to expand their knowledge from an outsider’s perspective. More context would be helpful to make this material accessible to a broader audience.
VERDICT This book will be most useful in a library setting that serves a large Jewish population, especially within a Hebrew school setting.

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