The Schmutzy Family
by Madelyn Rosenberg; illus by Paul Meisel
32 pages; ages 3 - 5
Holiday House, 2012
“First thing Sunday morning the Schmutzys rolled up their jeans and went wading in the malodorous Feldman Swamp.” What’s not to like about a book that starts like that?
With a name like Schmutzy, you expect the kids in this family to get muddy. Even Mama Schmutzy and dad get in on the mud-pie baking, painting, makeup experimentation, wallpaper redecoration and cow-pie leaping. But come Friday, Mama Schmutzy raises her eyebrows and smacks her forehead.
“Oy! Look at this dirt! You’re Farshtunken, all of you!” It’s nearly Shabbos … can the family clean up and get ready for the Sabbath dinner before the sun sets?
I love the language – the sprinkling of Yiddish words – and the combination of India ink, watercolor, acrylic, pencil and pastel illustrations that are integral to the story. And I love the freedom Mama Schmutzy allows her family to explore, discover, create and be messy. But most of all, I love the frogs in the kitchen sink!
Theme: preparing for the Sabbath
Beyond the book: Stomp through icy puddles. Slide down the driveway on your butt and toss snowballs at the tree. Fill spray bottles with colored water and paint the snow. Then dry off, clean up and make some Raisin Challah , a yummy bread specially baked for the Sabbath.