Estie the Mensch

Estie the Mensch

by Jane Kohuth, Rosanne Litzinger
     
 

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Estie does not always like people. So when her grandmother reminds her to be a mensch, she'd rather not. She'd rather be a dog. Or a turtle. Or a seagull. Being a monkey can even make another kid laugh! But it can also make another kid cry, and that's when Estie and her grandmother find out what a mensch Estie can really be.

Overview

Estie does not always like people. So when her grandmother reminds her to be a mensch, she'd rather not. She'd rather be a dog. Or a turtle. Or a seagull. Being a monkey can even make another kid laugh! But it can also make another kid cry, and that's when Estie and her grandmother find out what a mensch Estie can really be.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
PreS-K—"Oy, Estie. Be a mensch" is a phrase all too often repeated by her parents and grandmother when the young girl pulls her coat over her head to hide like a turtle, crawls under the dinner table to hang out with her dog, and pretends to be a seagull, a monkey, a fly, and a tiger during various family gatherings and outings. While the literal translation of the Yiddish word "mensch" is "person," it is understood to mean a good person—a person of integrity who acts with compassion and kindness. When Estie's grandmother takes her to the zoo with her friend and her friend's grandson, Petie enjoys Estie's animal antics. But when his ice cream falls on the ground, Estie shares hers, finally winning the praise of her grandmother as a "real mensch." In the end, Estie realizes that it's not so hard to be a mensch, but she wishes she could be a mensch and a moose. There is a disconnect between the grown-ups' desire for Estie to act, literally, like a person and the conclusion of the story where Estie proves that she can be a real mensch and still use her imagination and creativity. Readers can only hope that the adults came to understand this as well. The illustrations are cheerful, animated, and expressive but some modern Jewish grandmothers might be dismayed by the depiction of elderly gray-haired, bun-wearing bubbies with dowdy clothes and sensible shoes. The pleasant illustrations and Yiddish gimmick can't make up for the slight story line and poorly executed message.-Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
Publishers Weekly
Estie would rather be a turtle, dog, tiger, or seagull than a person. "People hogged the best toys at school. People pushed on the train. People wore smelly perfume and asked her questions she didn't know the answer to." But when she crawls under the table and sniffs her family's feet, puts shells in her mouth at the beach, and monkeys around at the market, her mother, father, and grandmother use a Yiddish expression to urge her to change her behavior: "Be a mensch, Estie" (in other words, be a person—a good person). She finally finds an approving audience in chatty Petie, who thinks that it's hilarious when she imitates the animals at the zoo. Kohuth spends most of the book on Estie's animal antics, firmly establishing her heroine's contrarian streak, which makes Estie's last-minute demonstration of mensch-worthy generosity feel like something of an afterthought. But Litzinger's chalky illustrations have a tender, earnest quality, and Estie's red hair and green eyes give her animal impersonations pep in an offbeat story of gentle misbehavior, budding friendship, and close-knit family dynamics. Ages 3–8. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
PublishersWeekly.com, September 16, 2011:
"Litzinger's chalky illustrations have a tender, earnest quality, and Estie's red hair and green eyes give her animal impersonations pep in an offbeat story of gentle misbehavior, budding friendship, and close-knit family dynamics."
Children's Literature - Kenneth Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Estie does not always like people. She prefers animals and even behaves like her dog. Her grandmother tells her, "Zai a mensch," which in Yiddish means be a well-behaved, good person. But despite being reminded, Estie would rather be an elephant at the library, a seagull at the beach, a chimp in the grocery store, a fly at the family barbeque, an octopus at the swimming pool, and a tiger with her grandmother. Finally, she and her grandmother go to the zoo. There, they meet Grandma's friend Violet and her grandson Petie. As Petie, a mensch, talks on and on, Estie mimics each animal they see, making Petie laugh. But when he spills his ice cream cone, he cries. Estie then spoons one of her scoops into his cone. Grandma says she is "a real mensch" at last. But Estie isn't sure about that. There is a solidity and sculptural quality to Litzinger's stylized figures; she uses round eyes effectively to communicate emotions, while successfully employing body and hand gestures when needed for reinforcement. The lesson on thinking about others beyond oneself is clear, as is the explanation of mensch, a term which has come into general use. Reviewer: Kenneth Marantz and Sylvia Marantz

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375980077
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
08/23/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
File size:
11 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

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