It's a ... It's a ... It's a Mitzvah

It's a ... It's a ... It's a Mitzvah

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by Liz Suneby, Diane Heiman, Laurel Molk
     
 

Join Mitzvah Meerkat and friends as they introduce children through lively illustrations and playful dialogue to the everyday kindnesses that mark the beginning of a Jewish journey and a lifetime commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world).See more details below

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Overview

Join Mitzvah Meerkat and friends as they introduce children through lively illustrations and playful dialogue to the everyday kindnesses that mark the beginning of a Jewish journey and a lifetime commitment to tikkun olam (repairing the world).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lively illustrations help convey the importance of doing a mitzvah (literally, God’s commandment, and more broadly understood as a good deed) in a feel-good volume introducing young readers to this fundamental Jewish concept. Mitzvah Meerkat accompanies bears, beavers, kangaroos, and other friendly creatures as they make the most of every opportunity to help each other and improve the world. As groups of animals resolve their problems, Mitzvah Meerkat cheers them on. When one zebra complains that another zebra is taking too long with the hula hoop, a third zebra chimes in that “there’s no need to start a fight. Give Zoe one more minute. You can have my turn.” The Meerkat then observes, “it’s a mitzvah to help make peace.” Pleasant dialogue and humorous illustrations provide clear-cut situations in which even the youngest participants can learn to do a mitzvah. Ages 3–6. (July)
Hadassah Magazine

It's a ... It's a ... It's a Mitzvah by Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman (illustrated by Laurel Molk; Jewish Lights, 32 pp. $18.99), in few words and with apt illustrations, effortlessly teaches these powerful lessons.

Jewish Book Council - Christine Maasdam

One look at the cover and joy abounds! Dancing mice and a wise meerkat draw you into a world of mitzvah. Simple everyday activities demonstrate how easily a mitzvah can be accomplished all while teaching Torah and Talmud. The world of mitzvah is all about 'the doing'.

The playful characters welcome new friends, share their food with the hungry, help the elderly, visit the sick, provide tzedakah, promote peace, honor their parents and celebrate Shabbat. The wise meerkat reminds us at each event that a lesson is being learned by singing his refrain of "It's a …It’s a …It’s a mitzvah".

The illustrations are so engaging that the animals’ feelings of kindness and concern are immediately conveyed to a child and the authors’ well-chosen words speak directly to a child’s heart.

[It’s a ... It's a ... It's a Mitzvah] is a delightfully sensitive and yet powerful means to introduce the concept of mitzvah to a child or to a class. Highly recommended for children ages 2 to 8.

The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles - Lisa Silverman

If your kids haven't heard of Mitzvah Meerkat and all his animal friends, then it’s time to introduce them to this delightfully illustrated picture book. The authors were inspired by a well-known Talmud teaching relating the importance of various good deeds, such as honoring parents, visiting the sick, helping the needy, bringing peace between people and more. The lively animal characters joyously perform many mitzvot that children can easily relate to, and the clever layout helps parents introduce the Jewish concepts of performing good deeds in an age-appropriate manner. The title refers to the rhythmic refrain that can be chanted for fun by kids during a story-time session, but the whimsical pen-and-ink watercolor drawings are the highlight of this engaging way to introduce children to acts of loving kindness. Thankfully not preachy or otherwise didactic, the lessons are cute and contemporary. (The sheep are knitting scarves, the monkeys play on monkey bars, etc.) This is an excellent book for the preschool classroom, but the cuteness factor of the animals’ antics will ensure that parents at home will also get lots of pleasure in learning great Jewish values and passing them on to future generations.

Spirituality & Practice - Fred Brussat

In the Jewish tradition, mitzvah covers a variety of activities done by people who are animated by love, kindness, caring, and sharing. Liz Suneby and Diane Heiman have come up with a playful format for this children's book for those ages 3–6 years of age.

A little band of animals respond to the question: "What is a mitzvah?" and then show us what it means through the practices of welcoming new friends, sharing food with the hungry, helping someone who is older, forgiving someone who has made a mistake, taking care of the earth, cheering on your friends, looking after the sick, giving charity, being a peacemaker, sharing the loving spirit of Shabbat, and honoring one's parents.

According to Suneby and Heiman, you cannot touch or smell or buy mitzvah but you can experience it again and again as "a warm feeling of happiness in our hearts when we do good deeds. Mitzvah is a way of life." By the time you finish reading this book, delightfully illustrated by Laurel Molk, you will want to click your heels together like the animal characters in the story and then go out to do some good!

From the Publisher

"Delightful! An engaging read-aloud for families with young children. Highly recommended!"
Dr. Ron Wolfson, Fingerhut Professor of Education, American Jewish University; author, Be Like God: God's To-Do List for Kids; co-author, What You Will See Inside a Synagogue

"Delightfully engaging! An accessible, upbeat way for children to discover how much good they can do … and how Jewish practice is already woven into the best parts of our lives."
Durga Yael Bernhard, author/illustrator, Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together

“Offers a fun way to introduce children to the joy of performing good deeds and acts of lovingkindness.”
Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, author of many children's books, including God’s Paintbrush; In God’s Name; and The Shema in the Mezuzah

“Imagine a Jewish Dr. Seuss, and you get this gorgeous book. What a splendid way to introduce young children to the rich moral vocabulary of Judaism! [It] makes a powerful statement: you’re never too young to be fully engaged with Jewish ideals.”
Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, author, For Kids—Putting God on Your Guest List: How to Claim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah and Text Messages:A Torah Commentary for Teens

jewishjournal.com
If your kids haven't heard of Mitzvah Meerkat and all his animal friends, then it's time to introduce them to this delightfully illustrated picture book. The authors were inspired by a well-known Talmud teaching relating the importance of various good deeds, such as honoring parents, visiting the sick, helping the needy, bringing peace between people and more. The lively animal characters joyously perform many mitzvot that children can easily relate to, and the clever layout helps parents introduce the Jewish concepts of performing good deeds in an age-appropriate manner. The title refers to the rhythmic refrain that can be chanted for fun by kids during a story-time session, but the whimsical pen-and-ink watercolor drawings are the highlight of this engaging way to introduce children to acts of loving kindness. Thankfully not preachy or otherwise didactic, the lessons are cute and contemporary. (The sheep are knitting scarves, the monkeys play on monkey bars, etc.) This is an excellent book for the preschool classroom, but the cuteness factor of the animals' antics will ensure that parents at home will also get lots of pleasure in learning great Jewish values and passing them on to future generations.
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Meet the Mitzvah Meerkat and his friends, a bunch of aggressively cheerful animals dedicated to the proposition of teaching young children how to do good deeds. When three visually intact mice ask the lolling meerkat to explain what a mitzvah is, he responds with numerous examples of how even young children can do good deeds. It would have been nice to have just one line saying simply stating that a mitzvah is an act of human kindness (in this case, animal kindness) toward other people. However, that would make for a much shorter book. Instead, comic animals ranging from climbing monkeys, to arctic bears, to deer, beavers, and sheep knitting sweaters from their very own wool for charity (ignoring an old Ashkenazic superstition to never sew clothes you are wearing), all exemplify acts of kindness that children can perform with relative ease. Mitzvah Meerkat stands in a side bar on each double page and offers the briefest explanation of what mitvot the children are observing. The line-drawn animals are comical and energetic. One mitvah that is shown but not explained is the mitzvah of adoption, when a doggy daddy reads to a bed full of pups, each a different breed of canine. The underlying message of that picture is even more meaningful than the overt one to honor one’s parents. The story reader can encourage children to chime in on the repeated refrain, “It’s a, it’s a, it’s a mitzvah,” to engage them in the story reading. After the book is read, there is an obvious discussion theme of what mitzvoth children can practice and what good deeds they have already done. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross; Ages 3 to 7.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Each spread in this cheerful values lesson depicts an example of a "mitzvah"-a good deed-as defined by Jewish tradition. Many acts of loving-kindness are performed by a variety of adorable animals, from raccoons who care for the sick to an elephant who invites a flamingo friend to her home for the Sabbath. In a frame story, a meerkat explains the concept of mitzvah to mouse friends, and they are included in each scene along with the refrain, "It's a… it's a… it's a mitzvah!" and an explanation of the mitzvah being enacted. An author's note gives a deeper explanation and suggests asking children to define the mitzvah being depicted on each page. The examples used are age-appropriate, and the lively illustrations do a reasonably good job of showing the good deeds in action. The layout varies between placing the refrain/explanation to the right or left of the scene, confusing the reading pattern-when exactly are readers supposed to say, "it's a mitzvah"? One example is questionable: the mitzvah of "making peace" shows a grouchy zebra demanding a turn with a hula-hoop; another zebra says, "There's no need to start a fight. Give Zoe one more minute. You can have my turn." While giving up a turn may prevent a fight, the peacemaker seems to be succumbing to bullying rather than teaching the importance of patience. That said, most of the examples are solid, and this picture book is a good discussion-starter. It will be welcome in Jewish families and educational settings and may prove useful for general values-based programs.—Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580235099
Publisher:
Jewish Lights Publishing
Publication date:
05/01/2012
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
741,701
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 6 Years

What People are saying about this

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Offers a fun way to introduce children to the joy of performing good deeds and acts of lovingkindness.
—Sandy Eisenberg Sasso (author of many children's books, including God's Paintbrush; In God's Name; and The Shema in the Mezuzah)
Jeffrey K. Salkin
Imagine a Jewish Dr. Seuss, and you get this gorgeous book. What a splendid way to introduce young children to the rich moral vocabulary of Judaism! [It] makes a powerful statement: you're never too young to be fully engaged with Jewish ideals."

—Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin (author, For Kids—Putting God on Your Guest List: How to Claim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah and Text Messages: A Torah Commentary for Teens)
Dr. Ron Wolfson
Delightful! An engaging read-aloud for families with young children. Highly recommended!

—Dr. Ron Wolfson (Fingerhut Professor of Education, American Jewish University; author, Be Like God: God's To-Do List for Kids; co-author, What You Will See Inside a Synagogue)
Durga Yael Bernhard
Delightfully engaging! An accessible, upbeat way for children to discover how much good they can do … and how Jewish practice is already woven into the best parts of our lives.
—Durga Yael Bernhard (author/illustrator, Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together)

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