Meet the Yids: Mr. Mentch

Jacqui Hochen­berg; Liza Kramer; Iosi Salem, illus.
  • Review
By – March 14, 2012
Mr. Mentch, a lit­tle fish, lives in Yid­delseas and spends his days being a mentch and help­ing his friends and neigh­bors, includ­ing Mr. Shlemiel, Mrs. Yen­ta, Dr. Shmootz, and Mrs. Klutz. When every­one starts to rehearse for the annu­al Chanukah show, Mr. Mentch is upset that he doesn’t have a spe­cial tal­ent to share. But then he is inspired to do what he does best and helps every­one to make sure that the show runs smooth­ly. Being crowned the Mac­cabee win­ner rewards him. Bold, gar­ish, car­toons illus­trate the slim, paper­back vol­ume, which begins with a quote from Rav Kook. The abun­dance of Yid­dish terms and humor might be inac­ces­si­ble to many read­ers and the uno­rig­i­nal, didac­tic mes­sage is unlike­ly to inspire a child to act like a mentch. A glos­sary in the back explains the Yid­dish phras­es. How­ev­er, one of the expla­na­tions for the var­i­ous forms of Oy” is par­tic­u­lar­ly insen­si­tive, pro­vid­ing an exam­ple for how Oy” can be used to show hor­ror as in Oy! What? He’s not Jew­ish!” — rein­forces the argu­ment that this type of humor will be lost on chil­dren. Not rec­om­mend­ed. Preschool– 2.

Rachel Kamin has been a syn­a­gogue librar­i­an and Jew­ish edu­ca­tor for over twen­ty-five years and has worked at North Sub­ur­ban Syn­a­gogue Beth El in High­land Park, IL since 2008, cur­rent­ly serv­ing as the Direc­tor of Life­long Learn­ing. A past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee and past edi­tor of Book Reviews for Chil­dren & Teens for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries News & Reviews, her arti­cles and book reviews appear in numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions. She has been a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Library Association’s Sophie Brody Book Award Com­mit­tee since 2021.

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