The Mitzvah Magician

illus. by Christiane Engel. 32p. Kar-Ben. 2012. pap. $7.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5656-1; RTE $17.95. ISBN 978-0-7613-5655-4; ebook $13.95. ISBN 978-1-4677-0063-4. LC 2011029818.
PreS-Gr 2—Gabriel's overzealous wand-waving gets him into trouble when he plays magician: he knocks things over and pokes his sister in the tummy. Mom helps him redefine the role of magician. "Good magicians do things that make people happy, not sad. They do mitzvot-that's a Jewish word for good deeds." Mulling it over in time out, Gabriel comes up with new magic words, "One-wish! Two-wish! Jew-wish!" and acts quickly to magically surprise his family with a clean house and yummy treat. While not all readers may agree that a magician's role is to do good deeds, in this context the "magic" angle makes it fun to do good. The simplified definition of "mitzvot" (technically, biblical commandments) is appropriate for young readers, especially the non-Orthodox Jews represented in the bright and blocky paintings. Jewish families and educators will welcome this title for its reinforcement of the mitzvah concept.—Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

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