Mr. Temp­kin Climbs a Tree

Cary Fagan (auth.), Car­les Arbat (illus.)

  • Review
By – October 10, 2019

This is a delight­ful pic­ture book that con­veys Jew­ish — and uni­ver­sal — themes of the impor­tance of inter­gen­er­a­tional friend­ship and help­ing one’s neigh­bors. The illus­tra­tions are bright­ly col­ored and con­tain many details for chil­dren to notice and focus on as they lis­ten to the sto­ry, or read it for them­selves. It is instruc­tive with­out being preachy and it has a hap­py ending.

Mr. Temp­kin is Marky’s next-door neigh­bor and, in the sum­mer, it is Marky’s job to water Mr. Tempkin’s beau­ti­ful flower gar­den. They enjoy each other’s com­pa­ny as Marky takes care of the flow­ers and Mr. Temp­kin tends to his bird feed­er, shar­ing his knowl­edge and appre­ci­a­tion of birds with his young friend. Marky is sur­prised that some­one so old” can do so many things by him­self. One day Mr. Temp­kin over­es­ti­mates his abil­i­ty to climb a tree to prop­er­ly posi­tion his bird feed­er. He falls out of the tree and must be tak­en to the hos­pi­tal. Marky spends a long day anx­ious­ly wait­ing to see if his friend will be alright. Hap­pi­ly, Mr. Temp­kin returns home with just a ban­dage on his sprained ankle and Marky con­tin­ues to help him, with even more oppor­tu­ni­ties to assist such as push­ing the wheel­chair up the hill so Mr. Temp­kin can con­tin­ue to attend syn­a­gogue ser­vices every morn­ing. By the end of the sto­ry, Marky and Mr. Temp­kin have become good friends and Marky has learned much about inde­pen­dence, friend­ship, kind­ness, respon­si­bil­i­ty, and mitzvot.

This sto­ry is clear­ly writ­ten and easy to under­stand and the sophis­ti­cat­ed con­cepts are not over­ly sim­plis­tic. Read­er and lis­ten­er alike will iden­ti­fy with the char­ac­ters and appre­ci­ate the friend­ship between them despite their age difference.

Mindy Langer is a retired pedi­a­tri­cian and grand­moth­er of two. She vol­un­teers in numer­ous capac­i­ties for her syn­a­gogue and is vol­un­teer read­er of med­ical texts for Learn­ing Ally, a ser­vice that pro­vides record­ed books for stu­dents with print dis­abil­i­ties. She sings in a large com­mu­ni­ty choir and is an avid quil­ter. In choos­ing books for chil­dren she most enjoys those that are both chal­leng­ing and fun for the chil­dren as well as enter­tain­ing for the adults read­ing to them.

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