Under-the-Sea Seder

  • Review
By – March 30, 2023

Ann Koff­sky has cre­at­ed a mag­i­cal under-the-sea envi­ron­ment sure to enter­tain chil­dren as Passover approach­es. Like many kids, young Miri is bored and rest­less dur­ing her fam­i­ly’s seder; adult voic­es drone on, grape juice is nois­i­ly slurped, and the crunch­ing matzah is messy. But the world under the table­cloth allows Miri’s active imag­i­na­tion to thrive. Accom­pa­nied by her pet cat, she explores an ocean­ic won­der­land. They meet fan­ci­ful, bright­ly col­ored sea crea­tures with whom they share a seder filled with enthu­si­as­tic song and dance. Miri then returns to the world of her fam­i­ly seder in time to sing the tra­di­tion­al Passover songs, and every­one starts to dance, hav­ing great fun together.

An author’s note reminds fam­i­lies that the seder need not be a long, drea­ry affair. Act­ing, mov­ing, singing, and play­ing can be eas­i­ly incor­po­rat­ed to enliv­en the expe­ri­ence and include chil­dren who sim­ply can­not sit still. (Koff­sky notes that the rab­bis who designed the ear­li­est seders were con­cerned about main­tain­ing the inter­est of all the par­tic­i­pants.) She encour­ages fam­i­lies to think about cre­ative activ­i­ties they can add to encour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion and max­i­mize learn­ing. The art accom­pa­ny­ing the text, with its rich, deep col­ors and humor­ous touch­es, is as vibrant and imag­i­na­tive as Miri.

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.

Discussion Questions