Clarence's Topsy-Turvy Shabbat

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Product Details

Kar-Ben Publishing (R)
Publish Date
10.7 X 9.0 X 0.4 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod lives in northern Israel with her family. Her previous book, Yossi and the Monkeys, has become a Shavuot favorite.

Jennie Poh is a creative who studied fine art at the Surrey Institute of Art & Design, as well as fashion illustration at Central St. Martins. She lives in Woking, England.


Clarence the raccoon might be the anti-Amelia Bedelia. There's a long tradition of lovable fools, like Amelia Bedelia and Lazy Jack, who are so sweet that everyone adores them even when they get things hopelessly mixed up. When Amelia Bedelia dresses a chicken, it ends up wearing a charming outfit, and, in this picture book, Clarence seems to follow the same school of thought. When he's baking challah bread for the Jewish Sabbath, he comes home with a bunny instead of honey and a beast instead of yeast. But Clarence is much more cunning than his progenitors. The animals turn out to be a fantastic baking team. The beast, for example, is an 'absolutely terrific' kneader. Almost every page of the book has an unexpected twist, and the surprises are more satisfying than the actual jokes. The low point is when Clarence picks up soil instead of oil. Even the narrator often seems surprised, with comments like, 'Seriously, Clarence? WHAT are you thinking?' If those exclamations are a little too intrusive, the surprises in the artwork are wonderfully nontraditional. They reverse the usual big-head, big-eyes style of cartooning. Most of the animals have long, lanky bodies and pinprick eyes. But the best surprise is what a joyful found family the animals make at Shabbat dinner. Jaded readers will love this crafty twist on the holy fool. -- Kirkus Reviews-- "Journal"

Encour-ag-ing chil-dren to clev-er-ly play with lan-guage while simul-ta-ne-ous-ly teach-ing about Shab-bat is a def-i-nite win-win. This laugh-out-loud pic-ture book fea-tures Clarence, a hap-less but charm-ing rac-coon, who wants to bake a deli-cious chal-lah and serve it to his friends at a fes-tive Fri-day night meal. The only prob-lem is that Clarence keeps mix-ing up the words in his recipe. He wants to buy flour but comes home with a flower. He brings home soil instead of oil and a bun-ny instead of hon-ey. Com-i-cal error fol-lows com-i-cal error accom-pa-nied by the hilar-i-ous-ly rue-ful com-men-tary of an unseen nar-ra-tor as the week pro-gress-es and Shab-bat looms. Will Clarence bake his deli-cious chal-lah in time for Shab-bat in spite of his many mix-ups? If he's cre-ative enough, he may be able to do it and he cer-tain-ly has a very cre-ative approach. Clarence's solu-tion to his prob-lem results in a Shab-bat meal with all the per-fect ele-ments in place. This delight-ful short sto-ry is fab-u-lous, flour-filled fun! The col-or-ful illus-tra-tions echo the humor of the text. Par-tic-u-lar atten-tion must be paid to the illus-tra-tion of the beast who replaces the yeast, with the sharp teeth which poke out of his smil-ing face and his price-less pur-ple scrib-bly hair. This sto-ry is rec-om-mend-ed for par-ents and chil-dren who want to bake some fun into their shared read-ing experience. -- Mical Hoschander Malen, Jewish Book Council Editor

-- "Website"

Clarence's Topsy-Turvy Shabbat, written by Jennifer Tzivia Macleod and illustrated by Jennie Poh, is about Clarence, a racoon who just loves Shabbat. Over the course of the story, readers see Clarence's Shabbat preparations, including gathering ingredients to make challah. The problem is that Clarence confuses the ingredients he needs with other items, such as actual flowers, instead of the flour needed for baking. The story is humorous, gentle and perfect for young readers. The combination of Macleod's text and Poh's illustrations only serve to add to the reading experience. -- Adam Samuel, Journalist, Jewish Link NJ, Teaneck, NJ

-- "Blog"

Clarence is a raccoon that loves Shabbat. He doesn't follow the normal recipe for making challah bread though, he comes up with some other ingredients that he spends the days before Shabbat gathering, which include some animals. At what seems like the last minute, he is able to find the ingredients he needs to make the challah bread and uses the ingredients he gathered for other purposes for the Shabbat meal. The story shows the importance of sharing and also spending time with friends during Shabbat. It also shows how you can go the extra mile to make a Shabbat meal more beautiful. I think it would've been nice to include a recipe for the challah bread, but I think that's only because I can imagine it being made with students helping the teachers make it in some classes where children read this book or have it read to them, or helping their parents make it at home after reading it or having it read to them. This story brings back memories of the one time I remember making challah bread about 15 years or more ago, although I might have made it a few other times after that. It was interesting to learn that the normal recipe in this story included honey as one of its ingredients, which I don't remember the challah bread I made having. -- Jill Harris

-- "Blog"