Jewish Values: The King’s Secret Mission: The Story of Modeh Ani

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35 p.
A king looks down on his subjects in the town of Me Me Me and sees that they are not behaving nicely toward each other. The king sends his assistant, BIM (Best in Me) to the town to teach the town about “the ways of goodness.” Every night while BIM’s body rests, his soul will report back to the king and tell the king the events of the day. BIM is born, and eventually goes to kindergarten, where he grabs as many blocks as he can like the rest of his classmates. He is sad to report to the king about his selfish behavior and sense of failure, but the king tells BIM he believes in him, and that BIM should continue his mission. The next day, BIM grabs blocks, but then shares them with a little girl who could not reach the bin. The king rewards BIM by the gift of the prayer Modeh Ani (I give thanks), to remind BIM of the king’s trust in him and that BIM’s mission is to be the best “me” he can be. The author wrote this parable to explain spiritual concepts to children, and as in the first prayer said upon waking, God is referred to as “King.” Some of these concepts will be challenging for young readers: the idea of God and souls (illustrated as two bright lights), what happens when we sleep, and conversing with “someone” you cannot see. An illustration faces each page of text. The pictures depicting the king and BIM, with their ethereal colors and lines, work well; the pictures of ME ME ME town are somewhat static and out of proportion (especially the “little” girl). In the back of the book are “Concepts for Further Discussion,” which are very helpful in explaining the parable. Best suited to non-Orthodox readers and shared with parental or teacher direction.
Sydney Taylor Winner: