Passover: Cel­e­brat­ing Now, Remem­ber­ing Then

Har­ri­et Ziefert; Kar­la Gudeon, illus.
  • Review
By – October 10, 2011
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.

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