Ben’s Bonkers Bar Mitzvah

  • Review
By – August 21, 2023

Ben’s bar mitz­vah is rapid­ly approach­ing, and he is both excit­ed and ner­vous. So many things can go wrong. Will he be able to han­dle the pres­sures? Will the bar mitz­vah be a grand suc­cess? He hopes to sat­is­fy his fam­i­ly and friends on this high­ly antic­i­pat­ed occasion.

Then strange things begin to hap­pen at his syn­a­gogue and in his fam­i­ly. Ben won­ders whether his imag­i­na­tion is get­ting the bet­ter of him. It seems that a group of aliens is using his shul and its mem­bers to stage a takeover of the Earth and make it their own plan­et — and Ben is the only one who under­stands their nefar­i­ous plot. With the help of his car­ing grand­fa­ther, Ben hatch­es a suc­cess­ful plan to save the world, just in time to cel­e­brate his bar mitzvah.

This sci-fi book is humor­ous and engross­ing, with black-and-white draw­ings that add to its over­all charm. Ben’s rela­tion­ship with his grand­fa­ther is a mod­el of inter­gen­er­a­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trust; and his grow­ing con­fi­dence in his own abil­i­ties serves as an excel­lent mes­sage. Some­how, the author makes the alien takeover and Ben’s reac­tion to it seem almost plau­si­ble. We watch Ben and his grand­fa­ther demon­strate inge­nu­ity as they out­wit the foe and keep their com­mu­ni­ty safe and sound. All’s well by the end, when Ben’s bar mitz­vah pro­ceeds as planned. His fam­i­ly admires his ini­tia­tive, and the aliens find a new plan­et that they can call home.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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