Maddie the Mitzvah Clown

Maddie the Mitzvah Clown

By Karen Rostoker-Gruber

Illustrated by Christine Grove


Jacketed hardcover, 32pp, $17.95




Anyone can become a mitzvah clown — even a shy mouse...

When Maddie sees Giggles the Mitzvah Clown perform at her Grandma's senior home, she decides to join in! She puts on a big red nose and learns how to make balloon animals, sing songs, and most importantly, how to bring smiles and happiness to Grandma and Grandma's friends.

Along the way, Maddie learns how to overcome her shyness, too, and become a more confident and happy mouse. 

About the Author

Karen Rostoker-Gruber is an award-winning children's book author and humorist. Her book, Farmer Kobi's Hanukkah Match (with co-author Rabbi Ron Isaacs) was a 2015 National Jewish Book Award Finalist. Karen is also a ventriloquist and performs with Maria, her puppet, in schools and libraries. She lives in New Jersey.

About the Illustrator

Christine Grove is an illustrator of children's books. She received her MFA in illustration at the end of 2011 and has been illustrating ever since. Christine lives in North Georgia with her family and her treasured collection of 2H pencils.

Reviews for Maddie the Mitzvah Clown

Category: Picture Books

"Maddie, a young mouse, loses her shyness when she realizes that she can make others laugh.She sees the joy on Grandma's friends' faces as Giggles the Mitzvah Clown performs at their senior home. He includes Maddie as he makes balloon hats, entertains with juggling, songs, and dances, and, most importantly, talks with everyone. She asks: "Can shy mice become mitzvah clowns?" and Giggles assures her that anyone can learn. Initially mostly gray-toned, the paintings with collage elements include more and more bits of color as Giggles introduces Maddie to the tools of the trade (balloons, rainbow wig, red nose), changing to full color as she takes on her new role. She dons a red wig, pink tutu, and purple, squeaking shoes, names herself "Squeakers," and begins her visits. Her confidence buoyed by her activities in disguise, she finally makes the biggest change of all: she speaks as Maddie herself to Grandma's friends. What seems like a didactic story improves along the way as the engaging illustrations involve readers and Maddie's transformation takes place. In real life, young people (usually teens) can learn to be mitzvah clowns and bring joy to others in this special way. This activity and other ways to do good deeds are described in "A Note to Families," but no specific references are provided. A different way to give back to the community (and help oneself), this cheery outing should not be confined to its Jewish context."
Kirkus Reviews

"I absolutely love both the story and art portrayed in this book and recommend it highly for children of any religion. Maddie has a universal problem and finds an absolutely clever and inspiring way to over come her character flaw. She is a believable and engaging character who many children will be able to identify with. While this satisfying and brightly-illustrated story nods to the Jewish faith in that Maddie does a mitzvah (good deed done as a religious duty), the plot boils down to a child wanting to overcome her shyness and make her Grandmother and friends laugh. It is no surprise to me that PJ Library has recently commissioned 20,000 of this wonderful book to be shared with Jewish families across the U.S. It's an absolutely wonderful book and everyone should take the time to read it, Jewish or not!"
Lynne Marie, blogger at Literally Lynne Marie

"The sadness of shyness and the seriousness of mitzvot mix in a charming picture book. This warm animal tale introduces children to the kindness of visiting the aged...The ending is happiness all around: for Grandma and friends, for the Mitzvah Clown who tutored Maddie and mostly for Maddie who finds inner strength, self-confidence and the will to do good in the world. The illustrations are as happy, energetic and bouncy as the characters they portray. The story opens in grey tones when Maddie is shy, then explodes into riotous color when she works toward her goal and conquers shyness through disguise."
Association of Jewish Libraries

"The book exudes love as the reader feels Maddie gain confidence and strengthen her sense of self. The story is followed by a note explaining what a mitzvah is and what a Mitzvah Clown does. It gives readers some suggestions for performing mitzvot of their own. The book is perfect for individual reading but would also be excellent for school units relating to mitzvot, Purim, grandparents, and aging, and would be useful for encouraging shy children to gain confidence. It makes an excellent read-aloud. 
"The illustrations are as endearing as the story. The illustrator begins with grays, adding bits of color gradually as Maddie begins to gain confidence. By the time Maddie is fully confident, the illustrations are multicolored and filled with happy-looking mice."
Jewish Book Council