It’s really hard to be a kid and wait until your busy parent is finished doing grown up stuff and is ready to pay attention. Although impatient, Yitzy is friendly, helpful, and imaginative which helps him accomplish his goals. He imagines his toys are real live friends, and the advice they give him may not be wise but is always well-intentioned. His almost literal flights of fancy are lots of fun. His toy dinosaur and barrel of toy monkeys encourage him to kiss a mezuzah, which is too high for Yitzy to reach and their advice doesn’t quite do the trick. But an adult acquaintance named Mr. Gertz rolls by in his wheelchair and he and Yitzy find they can help one another. Yitzy helps Mr. Gertz open a heavy door, Mr. Gertz helps Yitzy reach the mezuzah, and then, in return, Yitzy suggests a creative way for Mr. Gertz to reach and kiss the same mezuzah from his chair; a perfect example of how kindness and assistance build upon each other to help all the participants reach new heights. This is certainly a worthwhile lesson for a reader to absorb.
This simple story, with its clear and easily understood theme, is accompanied by brightly colored illustrations complete with humorous touches and smiling faces. The amusing moments, throughout both the text and the art, keep the reader engaged and focused on the basic but important message; offering help benefits both the giver and the receiver. There’s not a single hint of didactic preaching here, just a story of a kind, friendly boy having fun while showing character and caring. The bright smiles in the illustrations will be reflected on the faces of young readers.
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.