Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Sivan 5760 - June 21, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
My Middos World

by Menucha Beckerman

Which child has never fantasized a utopian Candyland where he could eat whatever he chose and as much of it as his stomach could hold? What child has not gone through a selfish stage of possessiveness? Or wanted to revert to babyhood to gain the attention that Baby Brother seems to get so effortlessly? Growing up, honesty, responsibility, basic character traits and many very commonplace conflicts in childhood, are probed by a very skillful pen in very de luxe editions.

Menucha Beckerman has been a household word for every tot from two to eight for close to two decades. Israeli children small and medium-sized have treasured her beautiful books -- small, medium-sized and large -- and read them over and over until they knew them by heart. Her books come in rhyme and in prose and their messages are well absorbed since they deal with everyday situations, with problems that children actually face. The graphics are superb, the children adorable, pinchable and lifelike, that is, very easy to identify with. And of the several dozens of books already published, many have already appeared in English.

Which brings us to "My Middos World," a new series appearing now in English. When it was first published in Hebrew seven years ago, it immediately sold tens of thousands of copies.

Besides being magnificent in every aspect -- impressive pictures, special laminated paper, a large size format -- the contents of the books are very special as well. The stories are written in a simple manner yet they convey a deep Jewish message of knowing, appreciating mitzvos and performing them happily. Six of the popular fifteen Hebrew books have now been translated so as to appear on the market simultaneously, in a gift-boxed edition.

A brief focus on Book Five: Dina-dee Loves Shabbos. This theme has been dealt with in countless children's books, but this one is really special. One might think that a translation would reflect Israeli-style living, but interestingly, this is not so. The floors are not stone- tiled, and "Mommy vacuums the floors." No sponja... (There's even a Raggedy-Ann doll on Dina-dee's bed.) Grandma's home is Israeli, though, and old fashioned, crocheted doilies etc. -- a bit of both worlds and the incidental lesson that on Shabbos, all tables must be covered!

The book proceeds with lifelike illustrations that speak to children, and with a pleasant repetition of familiar traditions, messages, simple halachos such as muktza and concepts such as toys especially set aside for Shabbos.

Three of the books in this series center around a boy hero, Michael, and three around Dina-dee. Another series in English also geared to the pre-school level is "My Little World" with eight titles including, "Gitty's Dream Comes True," "Surprise for Mommy!," "Welcome Home," "The Real Hero," "That's All! I Want to be Small!" and others.

Among the excellent titles in the thirty-book "Little Library" in Hebrew, simple enough for most non-Israeli parents who wish to ease their children's initiation into Hebrew language, are the following: "Maase Letiferet B'Uga Nehederet" about sharing and being considerate; "Lo Rotzeh Lishon," on bedtime; "Bareket Hamefuneket," about a spoiled girl; "Adom, Matok -- Umesukan!" about the dangers of a medicine cabinet; "Mi Mefached Mehachoshech" -- Who's Afraid of the Dark, and all the rest.

English or Hebrew, these books speak for themselves and will provide hours and years of educational pleasure to the lucky children who possess them.


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