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How to Be a Mensch, by A. Monster

Sachiko Yoshikawa

A bevy of colorful monsters demonstrate how they, too, can be mensches (creatures of integrity and honor) by treating others well. Includes a definition of the word mensch. "A cute and funny book with strong Jewish values" --Sarah Aronson, Sydney Taylor Shmooze

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It's hard to believe, but some people are afraid of monsters.

It's true that monsters can look scary. But most of us are kind and helpful.

Monsters can even be mensches!

Because anyone can be a mensch.

Mensches can be young or old, short or tall, pink or green or even striped.

They can be sporty or warty.

Mensches cn be lovers of books, makers of mud pies, or collectors of caterpillars.

Yes anyone can be a mensch.

It's easy to be kind and do the right thing. 

Well, most of the time.



The friend­liest mon­sters you ever saw inhab­it the pages of this live­ly pic­ture book, a sto­ry that simul­ta­ne­ous­ly teach­es young chil­dren how to be fine, upstand­ing peo­ple and offers numer­ous exam­ples of the Yid­dish word men­sch—in the lan­guage of the book, an ​“hon­or­able” and ​“kind” person.

While each mon­ster por­trays a char­ac­ter­is­tic of a men­sch, the author reminds chil­dren that being one isn’t always easy; it can be quite a chal­lenge on many occa­sions to do the right thing, but when you do it, you ​“feel ten feet tall.” Chil­dren will iden­ti­fy with these thought­ful, col­or­ful crea­tures who are each dif­fer­ent, some with bright col­ors, each with var­i­ous num­bers of eyes and heads, but all work­ing hard at being good and help­ful. They share with oth­ers, respect their par­ents and teach­ers, sneeze into elbows or tis­sues, and help their fam­i­lies pre­pare for Shabbat.

This cheery book fea­tures joy, cour­tesy, and care for oth­ers in a fun and light­heart­ed way. It can be used by par­ents and teach­ers to sup­port social skills with­out pre­sent­ing even a hint of didac­tic or heavy teaching.                                                                   --Michal Malen, The Jewish Book Council


In this delightful and perky picture book directed to young readers and families, the main character and narrator, A. Monster, gives readers direct advice for how to be a mensch. The humorous text speaks directly to the reader.

"It's hard to believe, but some people are afraid of monsters.
It's true that monsters can look scary.
But most of us are kind and helpful.
Monsters can even be mensches!"

I love funny books! Our kids deserve to laugh—even as they grapple with challenges of the world.

On each spread, readers will love the monster-specific examples (like not staring, with one eye or five) as well as general concepts, like sharing and caring and preparing for Shabbat.

Yoshikawa’s illustrations amp up the humor. Young readers are going to love checking out the menschy monsters on every page.

The book ends with a question directly for young readers: "What kind of mensch will you be?" This will certainly start conversations for families. When it comes to our world today, what could be more important than figuring out how to be a mensch? This may book may seem like a fun romp with  monsters, but it speaks to the responsibilities we all share without getting didactic. Leslie Kimmelman and A. Monster are right: Even the smallest acts of kindness can make a difference!

How To Be A Mensch is recommended for families introducing young children to the idea of social action and repairing the world. It is a cute and funny book with strong Jewish values.

--Sarah Aronson, The Sydney Taylor Shmooze


About the Author

Leslie Kimmelman is the author of more than three dozen children's books, including Worse and Worse on Noah's Ark, Mr. Mintz’s Blintzes, and The Eight Knights of Hanukkah, a Sydney Taylor Notable book. She lives with her family just outside New York City, and tries her best every day to be a mensch. Visit her at

About the Illustrator

Sachiko Yoshikawa moved to the United States from Japan to study art and illustrates children’s books with whimsical and vibrant characters. Her art has appeared in award-winning children's books such as Beach Is to Fun and What Is Science. She lives in California with her husband, Wayne, and daughter, Kinu. Enjoy her work on Instagram at onesmileadayillustration.