Mitz­vah the Mutt

Sylvia Rouss; Martha Rast, illus.
  • Review
By – September 1, 2011
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.

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