The Christmas Mitzvah

Creston. Sept. 2021. 32p. pap. $18.99. ISBN 9781939547941.
PreS-Gr 2–This inspirational cross-cultural story, based on true events, captures the holiday spirit; however, it may appeal more to adults than children. Al Rosen is a Jewish man who loves Christmas. One Christmas Eve, he offers to take over a newsstand clerk’s job to allow the clerk to spend Christmas Eve with his family. This act prompts Al to offer to do people’s jobs for Christmas Eve and it inspires others to do the same. On the year Al decides he is too old, many people he has helped come together to celebrate him, inspiring a multicultural lighting of the Chanukah candles. This story has an adult sentiment. Other than mentions of his children and grandchildren, it centers on Al. The inspirational content will appeal to adults and rides the line of cloying. That said, the message is a worthy one and the writing is clear, concise, and accessible. The cartoon-style illustrations are humorous and appealing, depicting a multicultural cast that includes people of all races, as well as those wearing turbans and hijabs. Agatha uses a vibrant color palette that draws the eye and creates effective pacing, with a mix of full-bleed single pages and spreads, as well as some spot art.
VERDICT Schools and libraries looking for an inspirational story that goes down easily and will likely appeal to parents and grandparents will find this fits the bill. Buy where budgets allow.

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