By: Shari Cohen
Illustrated by: Nadia Komorava
Publisher: Little Five Star
Publication Date: January 2007
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: September 2009
Alfie is a very special puppy. He is loved by his family and in turn, loves those around him. And today, all those special people in his life have come to celebrate, for Alfie is becoming a grownup dog. Today he is celebrating his ‘Bark Mitzvah!’
Author Shari Cohen has come up with a clever way to introduce children to the Jewish celebration of Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Through sweet little rhyming verses that are respectful of the traditions behind a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Cohen shows young readers what to expect when they too, prepare for their own celebration. At one point, Alfie is a bit nervous about all the attention and whether he’ll remember what to say:
Soon there stood Alfie
Beaming and quite proud…
Then he began singing
In a voice clear and loud.
He stopped just a moment
For his heart beat with fright –
So many songs and so many prayers
Will I ever get it right?
The author includes mention of ‘Alfie’s own mitzvoth,’ the obligatory picture taking, and the party where everyone has lots of fun and dances the hora.
The illustrations that accompany this charming book offer a soft and gentle look at a loving dog family. Alfie’s expressions are the sort that make the reader want to pick him up and give the puppy a big hug. A CD of sing-along songs, with puppies barking in the background on some of them, bring a fun and cheerful addition to the book. There are five songs, with a mixture of happy, playful songs sung by children and adults, to inspirational tunes sung by Cantor Marcelo Gindlin, who truly has a beautiful voice.
While the simple story may be a bit too young for 13 year-olds preparing for their own Bar/Bat Mitzvah, it will certainly offer an excellent introduction to younger children.
Quill says: Alfie’s Bark Mitzvah is a must-have for those wishing to teach their children about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah tradition.