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Ben’s Bonkers Bar Mitzvah (Paperback)

Children's Books Colour Books Illustrated Books

By Ivor Baddiel, Illustrations by Zoom Rockman
Imprint: Green Bean Books
Pages: 144
ISBN: 9781784389215
Published: 9th June 2023

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Ben Jacobs has made a list of everything that could possibly go wrong at his bar mitzvah, but even he didn’t foresee that the shul might disappear just days before the celebration.

The trouble is, no one believes him, apart from Grandpa. The rest of his family just carry on as normal… except now they are behaving rather oddly. And there’s a strange light in the woods behind the house, and some huge glowing egg-shaped objects appear at night. Is it just Ben’s over-active imagination, as Mum and Dad say, or is something more sinister taking place?

Ben turns to Grandpa for help, and together the two of them hatch a plan to save the world – and Ben’s bar mitzvah.

This zany and fun story of family, adventure and imagination is also about gaining confidence and growing up. Ben learns courage and builds belief in himself as a member of his family and the wider community.

'This zany and fun story of family, adventure and imagination is also about gaining confidence and growing up. Ben learns courage and builds belief in himself as a member of his family and the wider community’

Jewish Book Council

Ben Bonkers is getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah. In just a few days he will participate in the Jewish coming of age ceremony and he is SURE that something will go wrong. However, he is not prepared for just how wrong. The synagogue temporarily disappears, he sees aliens and discovers that they plan on talking over the world. First, he sees one of the aliens take over a person, later his family begins to act strange. Only his grandpa believes Ben, so it is up to them to hatch a plan to stop the aliens. At the age of thirteen, it can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. But for Ben Bonkers, it is the fate of the world.

I enjoyed this outrageous middle grade science fiction book. The plot was reminiscent of the old “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” novel which was made into movies four different times. Although the fate of the world is at stake, the topic is treated as a grand adventure with humor and provides a quick escapist novel for youngsters. The Bar Mitzvah may be the setting, but it is really a background for the story. One doesn’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the book. Most preteens will identify with Ben as he explores his coming-of-age angst. He would rather stay a child than deal with all the problems that come with being an adult.

NetGalley, Julie Ditton

This is a really enjoyable story about Ben and the unexpected challenges he faces leading up to a special event in his life. It's a quick and easy read, and offers an added cultural dimension wrt the Jewish faith.

As the book points out, being something of a worrier, Ben was certainly prepared for any number of things to go wrong before the religious ceremony he had been studying for. He just wasn't prepared for the *kind* of things that went wrong!

And to be fair, could anyone be expected to plan for the disappearance of the shul just when they're preparing to have their final lesson before "graduating"?! I liked how bonkers the story indeed was, and particularly enjoyed Ben's interactions with his grandfather.

There is a lot of humour, and there are times when you cannot help but feel feel for Ben's plight, even if you have long ago left behind the kind of coming-of-age ceremony symbolised by a bar mitzvah. Recommended for the target age group and the young at heart.

NetGalley, Farah Ghuznavi

As featured in

Jewish Chronicle

Article: 'Ivor Baddiel goes bonkers'

Jewish News

About Ivor Baddiel

Ivor Baddiel is a scriptwriter and author. His television and radio credits include the BAFTAs, the Brits, the National Television Awards, Socceraid, Mock The WeekThe X FactorThe VoiceOff Their RockersDancing On IceI’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of HereLoose EndsFighting TalkDeadringers and Hot Gossip.
He has written for many people including Stephen Fry, Graham Norton, David Walliams, Bruce Forsyth, Claudia Winkleman, Miranda Hart, Dara Ó Briain, Paddy McGuinness, Joan Rivers, Jack Whitehall, Mel and Sue, Dermot O’Leary and Ant and Dec.
Ivor is also the author of twenty-three books for both children and adults.


About Zoom Rockman

Zoom Rockman is an award-winning political cartoonist, puppet animator and illustrator who became the youngest-ever contributor to The Beano comic (age 12), Private Eye magazine (age 16) and The Sunday Times (age 21). The London Evening Standard  named him as one of the 'Most Influential Londoners' under 25. Zoom illustrated Iain Dale’s The Prime Ministers and The Presidents, the front cover for Private Eye’s Dr Hammond’s Covid Casebook and Michael Rosen’s, St Pancreas Defendat Me: The Boris Letters. Zoom Rockman’s Jewish Hall of Fame show will be running at the JW3 Centre in London from May until September 2023.

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