How to Be a Men­sch, by A. Monster

Leslie Kim­mel­man; Sachiko Yoshikawa, illus.

  • Review
By – August 19, 2022

The friend­liest mon­sters you ever saw inhab­it the pages of this live­ly pic­ture book, a sto­ry that simul­ta­ne­ous­ly teach­es young chil­dren how to be fine, upstand­ing peo­ple and offers numer­ous exam­ples of the Yid­dish word men­sch—in the lan­guage of the book, an hon­or­able” and kind” person.

While each mon­ster por­trays a char­ac­ter­is­tic of a men­sch, the author reminds chil­dren that being one isn’t always easy; it can be quite a chal­lenge on many occa­sions to do the right thing, but when you do it, you feel ten feet tall.” Chil­dren will iden­ti­fy with these thought­ful, col­or­ful crea­tures who are each dif­fer­ent, some with bright col­ors, each with var­i­ous num­bers of eyes and heads, but all work­ing hard at being good and help­ful. They share with oth­ers, respect their par­ents and teach­ers, sneeze into elbows or tis­sues, and help their fam­i­lies pre­pare for Shabbat.

This cheery book fea­tures joy, cour­tesy, and care for oth­ers in a fun and light­heart­ed way. It can be used by par­ents and teach­ers to sup­port social skills with­out pre­sent­ing even a hint of didac­tic or heavy teaching.

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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