Rachel and her family sit around the table at the Seder as her father begins to tell the story of the Hagaddah. He dramatically describes the escape of the Jews from Egypt and the parts played by Moses and Aaron. His descriptions are in lively, colloquial, idiomatic English, causing Rachel to vividly imagine each scene as if her father’s words were literally accurate. The words spoken to Pharaoh by Moses go “in one ear and out the other.” Pharaoh is “as stubborn as a mule” and in spite of the first nine plagues, he just wants to “bury his head in the sand.” Of course, there comes a moment when he just has to “eat his words” and let the Jewish people go. Each scene that Rachel envisions is accompanied by an amusing illustration, brightly colored, imaginatively conceived and comically executed based on her father’s phrases as he recounts the tale. When Pharaoh finally has to “eat his words,” the bowl of alphabet cereal sitting in front of him spells out “no way.” He is grimacing distastefully at the words but scooping them up in his spoon and preparing to swallow them. The idioms are defined in context as the reader goes along and also grouped together with their explanations at the beginning of the book. This is a combined lesson in Jewish history and the in the joys of playing with language and it is great fun for family members to enjoy together. A brightly colored, illustrated children’s Haggadah is ap- pended. Recommended for ages 5 – 11.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.