The 1950s Passover classic, “One morning when Pharaoh awoke in bed, there were frogs in the bed and frogs on his head…” by Shirley Cohen Steinberg is boldly illustrated with Ann Koffsky’s vibrant, colorful, animated, and humorous paintings. But, with no transition or explanation, the book abruptly turns into a Seder activity book where children can match the items on the seder plate to their symbolism, recite the four questions in Hebrew, transliteration, and English, retell the story of Passover with a comic strip, munch Matzah into different shapes, correct the silly Seder scene, solve the afikomen maze, and create an Elijah’s cup and a jumping froggie. The publisher explains that the book is “built around key moments in the seder to encourage young children to participate, no matter which haggadah you use.” For the most part the activities are clever and creative and will succeed at engaging children at the Seder. However, the “Frogs in the Bed” story tacked onto the front of the activity book seems out of place and consequently the volume as a whole suffers from an identity crisis. Both parts are deserving of their own separate book; together they are confusing and disjointed.
Recommended for ages 3 – 8.
Read Michal Hoschander Malen’s interview with Ann Koffsky here.
Rachel Kamin is the Director of the Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural & Learning Center at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. A past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee, Rachel is currently the co-editor of Book Reviews for Children & Teens for the Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter. She holds a BA in history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Michigan.