cover image The Christmas Mitzvah

The Christmas Mitzvah

Jeff Gottesfeld, illus. by Michelle Laurentia Agatha. Creston, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-939547-94-1

After lighting the Hanukkah candles, Al Rosen and his son, who are both pale-skinned, stroll around their city neighborhood. It’s also Christmas Eve, and when Al learns that the local Black newsstand clerk is working and can’t be with his family, Al volunteers to take over—beginning adecades-long tradition of the “Christmas Mitzvah,” as he and, later, his family, stand in for Christian neighbors who have jobs that are “easy to dismiss in a world that mistakes wealth for worth.” Peppy, inclusive, and richly colored digital art by Agatha portray an oft-frazzled Al juggling the demands of the jobs he’s stepped into. As his generosity inspires, people of various faiths soon carry on the Christmas Mitzvah by volunteering on “each other’s special days.” Gottesfeld succeeds in highlighting a compassionate lesson of community care, and the importance of turning kindheartedness into action. Back matter features an author’s note with links to more information on the real Al Rosen, as well as Hanukkah. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)