Green Bean Books

Ben’s Bonkers Bar Mitzvah

Written by Ivor Baddiel 
Illustrated by Zoom Rockman

Price: £9.99
Pages: 144
Format: paperback
ISBN: 9781784389215


  • An appealing story about aliens, adventure and family

  • A fun read for children, especially anyone interest in space!

  • The story shows how feeling connected to the past and a family’s culture can be a good basis for building confidence


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.

Author Details

Ivor Baddiel is a scriptwriter and author. His television and radio credits include the BAFTAs, the Brits, the National Television Awards, Soccer Aid, Mock The Week, The X Factor, The Voice, Off Their Rockers, Dancing On Ice, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Loose Ends, Fighting Talk, Dead Ringers and Hot Gossip.

He has written for many people including Stephen Fry, Graham Norton, David Walliams, Bruce Forsyth, Claudia Winkleman, Miranda Hart, Dara O’Briain, Paddy McGuiness, 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.  You can read about why he wrote this book here.


‘Ben Jacobs is worried about his upcoming bar mitzvah. He feels like he’s not ready to be seen as an adult in the Jewish world, and he imagines all sorts of things that could go wrong on the big day. But never in his wildest dreams or worries did he think he’d need to save his bar mitzvah from an alien invasion! Weird things occur: the shul disappears and reappears, his family acts strangely, there is a green glow outside. Ben’s family chalks up his alien story to pre-bar mitzvah jitters. Little do they know the danger they are all in, with an eventual world takeover being planned for Ben’s bar mitzvah day, launching from his own shul. Only Grandpa believes him, and works with Ben to save the day and prove to Ben himself that he is ready to take on some more adult responsibilities. The relationship between Ben and his grandfather is well described and warm, and Ben’s family is clearly close as well. The pen and ink illustrations are humorous and comic, but appear to show characters younger than thirteen years old. This is a light hearted pre-bar mitzvah jitters tale with a sci fi twist, with appeal more to the younger siblings of a b’nai mitzvah than one preparing for the big day.’ – Judy Ehrenstein,

‘A different coming of age challenge awaits the hero of Ben’s Bonkers Bar Mitzvah by Ivor Baddiel in the form of a disappearing shul and an alien invasion. Luckily for Ben, he has a sympathetic grandpa as wingman because the rest of his household are oblivious to the extra-terrestrial attack. This enjoyably madcap adventure delivers just the right balance of chaotic humour and Torah wisdom. Ebulliently illustrated by Zoom Rockman.’ — Angela Kilverstein, The Jewish Chronicle 

‘Ben’s bar mitz­vah is rapid­ly approach­ing, and he is both excit­ed and ner­vous. So many things can go wrong. Will he be able to han­dle the pres­sures? Will the bar mitz­vah be a grand suc­cess? He hopes to sat­is­fy his fam­i­ly and friends on this high­ly antic­i­pat­ed occasion.

Then strange things begin to hap­pen at his syn­a­gogue and in his fam­i­ly. Ben won­ders whether his imag­i­na­tion is get­ting the bet­ter of him. It seems that a group of aliens is using his shul and its mem­bers to stage a takeover of the Earth and make it their own plan­et — and Ben is the only one who under­stands their nefar­i­ous plot. With the help of his car­ing grand­fa­ther, Ben hatch­es a suc­cess­ful plan to save the world, just in time to cel­e­brate his bar mitzvah.

This sci-fi book is humor­ous and engross­ing, with black-and-white draw­ings that add to its over­all charm. Ben’s rela­tion­ship with his grand­fa­ther is a mod­el of inter­gen­er­a­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion and trust; and his grow­ing con­fi­dence in his own abil­i­ties serves as an excel­lent mes­sage. Some­how, the author makes the alien takeover and Ben’s reac­tion to it seem almost plau­si­ble. We watch Ben and his grand­fa­ther demon­strate inge­nu­ity as they out­wit the foe and keep their com­mu­ni­ty safe and sound. All’s well by the end, when Ben’s bar mitz­vah pro­ceeds as planned. His fam­i­ly admires his ini­tia­tive, and the aliens find a new plan­et that they can call home.’ —  Michal Hoschan­der Malen, Jew­ish Book Council 

‘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 

‘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. He is getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah and he is absolutely 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!  You don’t have to be thirteen or Jewish to enjoy this cute science fiction novel.’ – StoryBook Lady (Posted on and GoodReads)