In this amusing easy chapter book, Mitzvah the Mutt, a likable floppy-eared dog with a crooked smile, tells his own tale of being adopted by a nice Jewish family while learning about the holidays of Shabbat, Hanukkah and Passover. It all begins when a young girl wanders into a toy store out of sight of her mother, and it is Mutt who finds her, resulting in both his new home and a new name: Mitzvah. Mitzvah as narrator enjoys reporting on the many activities taking place in the household including setting the Shabbat table, making latkes, and singing Dayenu. Much like Amelia Bedelia, Mitzvah often misinterprets what he sees and hears, offering young readers the opportunity to chuckle knowingly, adding to the book’s appeal. For example, Mitzvah thinks it is a bit unusual that his family puts “tennis” balls in their chicken soup. And whenever Bubbie and Zaydie come over, Mitzvah notices Bubbie is constantly telling Zaydie to wash his hands even though Mitzvah has just licked them clean. For all its silly humor, this book employs Mitzvah more as narrative device than a fully formed character, and the voice of Mitzvah reads more like a funny kid than a dog. Still, children will enjoy the book’s short chapters, familiar holiday themes, and the fact that they’re in on the jokes. Ages 6 – 9.
Teri Markson has been a children’s librarian for over 18 years. She is currently the acting senior librarian at the Valley Plaza Branch Library in North Hollywood, CA.