The Schmutzy Family

Made­lyn Rosen­berg; Paul Meisel, illus.
  • Review
By – December 11, 2012

Clean­li­ness, schmen­li­ness, let the kids have fun! That’s the won­der­ful­ly unex­pect­ed atti­tude of Mama (and Papa) Schmutzy, whose fam­i­ly name says it all in this charm­ing debut. From Sun­day until Fri­day morn­ing, seem­ing­ly unflap­pable Mama stands by while her chil­dren wreak cre­ative hav­oc, trail­ing home bits of Feldman’s mal­odor­ous swamp, whip­ping up mud pies in the kitchen, redec­o­rat­ing their clothes and walls with food­stuffs, and indulg­ing in a bit of sci­en­tif­ic exper­i­men­ta­tion by wa­tering their father’s bald head to see if hair will grow. When the chil­dren turn the bath­room sink into a frog habi­tat, It was Mama who plugged the drain.” But come Fri­day, all bets are off as Mama corals the kids and sets them to work clean­ing up for Shab­bos. Oy! Look at this dirt! You’re FARSH­TUNKEN, all of you!” Uti­liz­ing the same ener­gy and enthu­si­asm with which they’ve attacked their week­day projects, the fam­i­ly gets busy undo­ing a week’s worth of dirt and mess. Allit­er­a­tion makes the chores sound like fun. They unstuck and unstunk and unswamped and unpainted…They soaped and scoured and show­ered.” By Fri­day night, every­thing and every­one is clean and the fam­i­ly sits down togeth­er for Shab­bos din­ner, fol­lowed by a Sat­ur­day morn­ing walk to syn­a­gogue. Com­bin­ing water­col­or, acrylic, pen­cil and ink, the appeal­ing illus­tra­tions per­fect­ly com­ple­ment the text, with busy two-page spreads that man­age to seem both hec­tic and friend­ly at the same time. So much is going on it’s a won­der that Mama doesn’t lose patience with her ener­getic brood, but what’s beau­ti­ful­ly con­veyed here is that this is a lov­ing fam­i­ly with clear pri­or­i­ties who choose to spend their time cre­at­ing, explor­ing, exper­i­ment­ing, play­ing, and pray­ing togeth­er. A delight­ful choice for ages 3 – 6.

Read­ing Guide

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.

Discussion Questions