The Mitzvah Magician
“One-wish, two-wish, Jew-wish!”
Gabriel’s magic wand gets him into trouble around the house, until he learns that the greatest magician is a Mitzvah Magician, using his powers to do good deeds.
|Interest Level||Preschool - Grade 2|
|Reading Level||Grade 1|
|Genre||Fiction, Picture Books|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Kar-Ben Publishing ®, Lerner Digital ™|
|Number of Pages||24|
School Library Journal
“Gabriel’s overzealous wand-waving gets him into trouble when he plays magician: he knocks things over and pokes his sister in the tummy. Mom helps him redefine the role of magician. ‘Good magicians do things that make people happy, not sad. They do mitzvot–that’s a Jewish word for good deeds.’ Mulling it over in time out, Gabriel comes up with new magic words, ‘One-wish! Two-wish! Jew-wish!’ and acts quickly to magically surprise his family with a clean house and yummy treat. While not all readers may agree that a magician’s role is to do good deeds, in this context the ‘magic’ angle makes it fun to do good. The simplified definition of ‘mitzvot’ (technically, biblical commandments) is appropriate for young readers, especially the non-Orthodox Jews represented in the bright and blocky paintings. Jewish families and educators will welcome this title for its reinforcement of the mitzvah concept.”—School Library Journal
“In this sweetly energetic story with brightly colored pictures to match, Marshall simplifies the Jewish concept of mitzvah (‘giving back’ as a moral and religious obligation), making the idea more accessible to preschoolers by linking it to a child’s everyday world. When Gabriel dons his cap and swishes his magic wand, things happen. Unfortunately, what happens gets him into trouble. While trying to make milk disapear from a glass, he causes a messy spill; instead of making his sister disappear, he makes her cry. His mother intervenes, sending him away for a time-out. If he is to be a great magician, she tells him, he must “do things that make people happy.” So Gabriel cleans up the milk, picks up his toys, and sets the table. When his mother reappears, he waves his magic wand, ‘One-wish! Two-wish! Jew-wish!”’ and surprises her with all the good deeds he has done. Now he is the Mitzvah Magician!” — Booklist Online
“Whenever Gabriel the great magician commands ‘Presto Magico,’ a small disaster occurs. His magic wand is his tool of choice to empty a glass and make his sister disappear. But to achieve these ends, he knocks over the glass and pokes his sister. Mom gives him a time out and sets him to thinking about using his magic to do mitzvot, or good deeds. He decides that his magic needs some ‘Jewish words,’ so he comes up with ‘One-wish! Two-wish! Jew-wish!’ as his new mantra. He carefully cleans the mess in the kitchen, puts his toys away and sets the table for snack time. With waves of his wand and his new magic words, he astonishes his mother with the amazing transformation and a new purpose for his magic. Marshall evokes gentle humor in this tale of a very believable little boy whose infatuation with a new toy leads to overzealous enthusiasm followed by remorse and creative atonement. The introduction of the key Yiddish words (in both singular and plural) is accomplished seamlessly and serves to stress the universality of this family’s experiences rather than emphasizing any cultural differences. (Though it’s too bad the text does not correctly cite the language as Yiddish, instead of ‘Jewish.’) Engel’s brightly hued, delightfully detailed illustrations ably capture the action while maintaining a slightly skewed playfulness that is enhanced by the casual typeface, coloring and spacing of the text.
Abracadabra! Lovely magic indeed.” —Kirkus
Author: Linda Elovitz Marshall
Linda Elovitz Marshall raised her four children, a small flock of sheep, lots of zucchinis and countless rabbits in a historic farmhouse overlooking the Hudson River in upstate New York. A graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University, she has, in addition to writing and farming, taught early childhood and parenting education, owned a bookstore. Her previous books include Talia and the Rude Vegetables and Talia and the Very YUM Kippur.
Illustrator: Christiane Engel
Christiane Engel is a freelance illustrator based in London. Born in Germany, she moved to England to complete her animation/illustration degree. Christiane has illustrated many picture books.