Clarence’s Top­sy-Turvy Shabbat

Jen­nifer Tzivia MacLeod, Jen­nie Poh (illus.)

  • Review
By – March 9, 2020

Encour­ag­ing chil­dren to clev­er­ly play with lan­guage while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly teach­ing about Shab­bat is a def­i­nite win-win. This laugh-out-loud pic­ture book fea­tures Clarence, a hap­less but charm­ing rac­coon, who wants to bake a deli­cious chal­lah and serve it to his friends at a fes­tive Fri­day night meal. The only prob­lem is that Clarence keeps mix­ing up the words in his recipe. He wants to buy flour but comes home with a flower. He brings home soil instead of oil and a bun­ny instead of hon­ey. Com­i­cal error fol­lows com­i­cal error accom­pa­nied by the hilar­i­ous­ly rue­ful com­men­tary of an unseen nar­ra­tor as the week pro­gress­es and Shab­bat looms. Will Clarence bake his deli­cious chal­lah in time for Shab­bat in spite of his many mix-ups? If he’s cre­ative enough, he may be able to do it and he cer­tain­ly has a very cre­ative approach. Clarence’s solu­tion to his prob­lem results in a Shab­bat meal with all the per­fect ele­ments in place. This delight­ful short sto­ry is fab­u­lous, flour-filled fun!

The col­or­ful illus­tra­tions echo the humor of the text. Par­tic­u­lar atten­tion must be paid to the illus­tra­tion of the beast who replaces the yeast, with the sharp teeth which poke out of his smil­ing face and his price­less pur­ple scrib­bly hair.

This sto­ry is rec­om­mend­ed for par­ents and chil­dren who want to bake some fun into their shared read­ing experience.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions