Mad­die the Mitz­vah Clown

Karen Ros­tok­er-Gru­ber; Chris­tine Grove, illus.
  • Review
By – August 28, 2017

This is the sweet sto­ry — writ­ten by award-win­ning chil­dren’s author and humorist, Karen Ros­tok­er-Gru­ber — of Mad­die, a very shy young mouse, too shy to raise her hand in school or to ask the wait­er for any­thing in a restau­rant. She is not even able to talk to her Grand­ma’s friends when she vis­its Grand­ma at her senior home, as bad­ly as she wish­es to do so. She is just too shy!

One day, dur­ing a vis­it to Grand­ma, she is enthralled by a Mitz­vah Clown named Gig­gles who makes bal­loon hats for the res­i­dents, sings, jug­gles, dances, and asks Mad­die if she would like a bal­loon hat. He also offers Mad­die a rain­bow wig and a big red nose. Mad­die stares at her­self in the mir­ror, but doesn’t rec­og­nize her­self. She loves the way she looks and hap­pi­ly smiles at her image.

Mad­die imag­ines her­self being able to enter­tain Grand­ma’s friends as Gig­gles does. Gig­gles encour­ages her to be a Mitz­vah Clown, too. He assures her that even shy mice can be suc­cess­ful. Mad­die learns to put on clown make­up, sing, dance, jug­gle, and talk to peo­ple in senior homes. The last thing to do is to pick out the clown name that is right for her. As she paces around, she hears her shoes squeak­ing. She excit­ed­ly decides to be Squeak­ers the Mitz­vah Clown. Squeak­ers accom­pa­nies Gig­gles and oth­er clowns on vis­its to senior homes and hos­pi­tals and hap­pi­ly enter­tains many res­i­dents, becom­ing less shy with every vis­it. Even­tu­al­ly, she accom­plish­es the bravest thing of all, talk­ing to Grand­ma’s friends as Mad­die with­out any cos­tume and enjoy­ing the rela­tion­ships. The book exudes love as the read­er feels Mad­die gain con­fi­dence and strength­en her sense of self.

The sto­ry is fol­lowed by a note explain­ing what a mitz­vah is and what a Mitz­vah Clown does. It gives read­ers some sug­ges­tions for per­form­ing mitzvot of their own. The book is per­fect for indi­vid­ual read­ing but would also be excel­lent for school units relat­ing to mitzvot, Purim, grand­par­ents, and aging, and would be use­ful for encour­ag­ing shy chil­dren to gain con­fi­dence. It makes an excel­lent read-aloud.

The illus­tra­tions are as endear­ing as is the sto­ry. The illus­tra­tor begins with grays, adding bits of col­or grad­u­al­ly as Mad­die begins to gain con­fi­dence. By the time Mad­die is ful­ly con­fi­dent, the illus­tra­tions are mul­ti­col­ored and filled with hap­py-look­ing mice.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 3 to 7.

Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Spe­cial­ist’s Cer­tifi­cate in infor­ma­tion sci­ence. She is the library direc­tor and media spe­cial­ist at the Mori­ah School in Engle­wood, NJ.

Discussion Questions