Now and then, holiday and history, family and faith, happy and sad combine in an artful, interactive picture book. This elegantly crafted volume delivers Passover as what? when? and, importantly, why? Lovely, primitive inspired, folk art paintings on extended pages deliver the details directly. The openout pages clarify the time frames. Picture book readers gain information and meaning simultaneously from short, clear text and wide ranging, mobile art which includes Seder plate contents, biblical references, actions scenes and selected plagues. The art shrinks not from, but renders in an outstanding way, the final plague. The author’s point of view sets up the Seder as a dual time: remembering slavery and celebrating the gift of freedom. Busy family members of all ages prepare then share the Seder in a recognizable way. Young readers will bond from their own experiences and heighten their Jewish identity. Thick pages, hearty enough to withstand countless extensions and refoldings, draw readers on. Contemporary whimsy and joy balance long ago heavy Exodus history and pain. This rich volume enriches the Seder for youngsters while giving the entire family a book to revisit and treasure as they look ahead, once again, to Passover. If tots had coffee tables, this book would grace them: beauty is mined in this classy explanation of why on this night it takes so long before we can eat. Recommended for ages 5 – 8.
Ellen G. Cole, the librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC.