Category Archives: Holidays

Purim and Passover Book List

Thank you to member Andi Davidson for compiling this list of holiday titles.

New for Purim

Cakes and Miracles, a beloved Purim story by Barbara Diamond Goldin, has been republished with engaging new illustrations by Jaime Zollars (Marshall Cavendish, 2010) The slightly shorter text tells the comforting story of a blind boy whose artistic vision inspires him to create fanciful Purim cookies that his mother sells in the village marketplace. As Hershel uses his ability to visualize the cookies in his mind to overcome his disability, he wins the gratitude of his mother, the admiration of their neighbors, and the possibility of a productive future.  For Kdg. – Gr. 3.

Problems in Purimville: A Purim Story by Karen Fisman, illustrated by Wendy Faust (JoRa Books, 2010) is a fanciful story in which two brave children find themselves in Purimville, where gremlins are making trouble, ruining hamentaschen, and spoiling Purimspiel costumes.  With the help of the hamentaschen, they scare the gremlins away and save the holiday.  This charming story combines mystery, fantasy, and adventure with colorful illustrations that will entice young readers.  For Kdg. – Gr. 3.

The Story of Esther: A Purim Tale, written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Jill Weber (Holiday House, 2011) is told in a storyteller’s style, with rich vocabulary and rising suspense.  It parallels the biblical story, with beauty pageants, murder plots, political jockeying, feasts, secrets, and the vanquishing of evil-doers all leading to a glorious victory over tyranny.  The delightful illustrations suggest humor and foreshadow the happy ending, brought about by courage and Jewish moral fiber.  For grades 1-3.

 

New for Passover

Are children coming to your Seder?  Delight them with these new books:

Try a little Afikoman Mambo by Rabbi Joe Black, illustrated by Linda Prater (Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2011). A catchy rhyming text in this upbeat picture book is complemented by watercolor illustrations of cheerful, multiracial children enjoying their large family’s Seder.  The rollicking story and sing-along CD will liven up Seders for all ages. It would also make a great gift for the afikoman-finders! For preschool – Kdg.

In Hoppy Passover by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Daniel Howarth (Whitman, 2011) charming bunnies Violet and Simon introduce the concepts of the holiday as they prepare to celebrate Passover with their family.  The sweet story and the cozy paintings showing a loving family sharing their holiday traditions are just right for young children who may be learning about Passover for the first time.  For preschool – Kdg.

 

For Cooks of All Ages

Let My People Eat!  Passover Seders Made Simple by Zell Schulman (Wiley, 1998), The New York Times Passover Cookbook (William Morrow Cookbooks, 1999), and Passover by Design: Picture-perfect Kosher by Design Recipes by Susie Fishbein (Mesorah, 2008) are just a few of the many collections of scrumptious recipes for Passover.

Kids will enjoy Matzah Meals: A Passover Cookbook for Kids by Judy Tabs and Barbara Steinberg, illustrated by Bill Hauser (Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2004),  a collection of recipes that range from the no-cooking variety for young children to more complicated ones for teens.   The Kids’ Catalog of Passover: A Worldwide Celebration of Stories, Songs, Customs, Crafts, Food, and Fun by Barbara Rush and Cherie Karo Schwartz (Jewish Publication Society, 2000) is filled with fun activities to help make Passover a joyous occasion for all ages.

Visit local synagogue and community libraries to sample the vast variety of books about Passover for adults and for children.

3/4/11

 

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For The Trees

Tu b’Shevat is just around the corner.   Linda Silver has compiled a new list of books to help you celebrate.

TU b’SHEVAT

THE NEW YEAR OF THE TREES

15 Shevat 5771, Jan. 20, 2011

BEHOLD THE TREES by Sue Alexander.  Arthur A. Levine, 2001.  Ages 8-12.

Israel’s history is traced through its trees from ancient times to the present.  Stunning illustrations, some with images embedded in them, show destruction and re-birth.

DEAR TREE: A TU B’SHEVAT WISH by Doba Rivka Weber.  Hachai, 2010.  Ages 2-5.

A tree growing outside the synagogue is wished sunshine, birds, blossoms, green leaves, strong protective bark, deep roots, and all of Hashem’s other gifts by a little boy who promises to take care of it.

HONI’S CIRCLE OF TREES by Phillis Gershator.  JPS, 1995.  Gr. 3-7.

Honi is a character from the Talmud who plants carob trees, falls, asleep, and wakes many years later to discover that all the people he know are gone but trees he planted are bearing fruit.

IT’S TU B’SHEVAT by Edie Stoltz Zolkower.  Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2005.  Ages 2-4.

This simple board book follows a little boy as he grabs a shovel, digs a hole and plants a tree on Tu B’Shevat. As we watch, the boy and the tree grow older; he and his family picnic under its shade and enjoy the fruit it bears.  Illustrated in lush pastels and written in verse, the narrative flows easily.

THE KIDS’ CATALOG OF ANIMALS AND THE EARTH by Chaya Burstein.  JPS, 2006.  Ages. 8-12.

In her usually sprightly style, the author brings together facts, history, lore, legend, short stories, experiments, crafts and activities, a short encyclopedia and index to focus on Israel and Judaism.

LISTEN TO THE TREES: JEWS AND THE EARTH by Molly Cone.  UAHC Press, 1995.  Ages 8-11.

Torah says to care for the trees, the birds, beasts, and fish, and the earth – for all things are connected.  Children sampling this eclectic mixture of stories, cartoons, anecdotes, and quotations will discover the connection that exists between Jewish tradition and ecological values.

THE NEVER-ENDING GREENNESS by Neil Waldman.  Morrow, 1997.  Ages 7-10.

The narrator begins his story as a boy and ends it as an old man, telling of coming to Palestine with his parents as refugees from the Holocaust, his hopes of filling the land with trees, and the eventual fruition of the Zionist dream of making the dry places bloom.

NOAH’S TREES by Bijou LeTord.  HarperCollins, 1999.  Ages 4-7.

Noah is a steward of the earth who plants and tends trees until they grow into a huge forest. He intends to give the trees to his sons but God has other plans and obedient Noah must use his trees to make an ark. After the ark is finished and the animals have boarded, Noah carries in little green saplings from the trees he loved the most.

PEARL MOSKOWITZ’S LAST STAND by Arthur Levine.  Tambourine, 1993.  Ages 7-10.

Saving the last tree on their urban street becomes the mission of a diverse group of older ladies.  A young city bureaucrat has no chance when they overwhelm him with food, family photos, card games, and stories.

PEARL PLANTS A TREE by Jane Breskin Zalben.  Simon and Schuster, 1995.  Ages 4-7.

Pearl, a little sheep, and her grandfather plant an apple seed, nurturing it as it sprouts.  Delicate watercolor paintings of petals, leaves, and blossoms decorate the story, which is followed by a note about Tu b’Shevat and other tree planting ceremonies.

REMARKABLE PARK by Patti Argoff.  Feldheim, 2010.  Ages 3-6.

Walking through the park, a boy and girl notice all of the ways that nature sings God’s praises and realize that through nature, we can all draw closer to God.

SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST TU B’SHEVAT by Sylvia Rouss.  Kar-Ben Copies, 2000.  Ages 3-6.

Similar to Yaffa Ganz’s A TREE FULL OF MITZVAHS, this addition to the Sammy Spider series shows a tree and the animals that benefit from it through all four seasons of the year.

SOLOMON AND THE TREES by Matt Biers-Ariel.  UAHC Press, 2001.  Gr.1-3

Drawing on legends about King Solomon and Jewish teachings about humankind’s responsibility to care for nature, this dramatically illustrated story stresses personal responsibility.

 

More information about all of these books and more about Tu b’Shevat can be found in the Jewish Valuesfinder, www.ajljewishvalues.org.

Click TU BISHAVAT BOOK LIST to download a copy of this list.

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New Hanukkah Books

Linda Silver, AJL GCC member and editor of the Jewish Values Finder, has created a list of new Hanukkah books.  The list is perfect for collection development or for shopping for gifts.

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel. Illus. by Amy Cartwright.  Price Stern Sloan.  Preschool.  The familiar words of the children’s Hanukkah song flow along the pages of this charmingly illustrated board book.  There’s a nice surprise waiting at the end: a pop-up scene with a spinning menorah.

Eight Winter Nights by Laura Kraus Melmed.  Illus. by Elizabeth Schlossberg.  Chronicle.  Preschool-Kdg.   Short verses tell the story of a family’s enjoyment of Hanukkah, from lighting the menorah to singing, dancing, eating, and giving tzedakah.  The pencil and pastel illustrations in shades of rust and magenta bathe the story in a warm, cozy light.   End notes give background on the holiday and its traditions.

Hanukkah. Preschool.  On the right side of each double page spread of this novelty book is an animated window of a menorah with flickering candles, gelt dropping into a bowl, a spinning dreidel, latkes being flipped, and a scroll saying “Happy Hanukkah.”  Facing each animated window is one sentence about the image in the window while on the last double page spread are some brief facts about Hanukkah.  The heavy pages, bright colors, simple text, and animated images are all appealing as a very simple introduction to some Hanukkah symbols.

The Hanukkah Trike by Michelle Edwards.  Illus. by Kathryn Mitter.  Albert Whitman.  Kdg. – Gr. 2.  A little girl named Gabi is thrilled to receive a new tricycle at the end of the first night of Hanukkah.  She names it “Hanukkah” but is daunted when she  tries to ride it and falls off.  The story of the Maccabees inspires her to persevere and her success is captured in bright paintings as well as in a rather bland text.

Happy Hanukkah Lights by Jacqueline Jules.  Illus. by Michelle Shapiro.  Kar-Ben/Lerner.  Preschool.  Rhymes, counting, and Jewish traditions are combined in this board book that shows a family’s joyful Hanukkah celebrations on all eight nights.  The illustrations are cheerful and child-like.

Jackie’s Gift: A True Story of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson.  Illus. by E. B. Lewis.  Viking.  Gr. 1-4.   When young Steve Satlow helps his neighbors, the family of the baseball great, Jackie Robinson, trim their Christmas tree, he tells them that his family has no tree of their own.  Not realizing that the Satlows are Jewish, Jackie delivers them one.    After a few awkward moments, the Satlows decide that for this year only, they’ll have both a menorah and a Christmas tree.  Jackie Robinson’s daughter wrote this handsomely illustrated story based on real events and it abounds with friendship and understanding.

The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah by Bill Berlin and Susan Isakoff Berlin.  Illus. by Peter J. Welling.  Pelican.  Preschool-Kdg.  There is no joy in Oyville when the local kvetch steals all of the menorahs.   But fear not: the town’s  brave children confront the old man, regale him with the story of the Macabbees and the true meaning of Hanukkah, and accomplish a miracle by opening the kvetch’s heart and mind to the joy of the holiday.  Unpolished but energetic illustrations abound in a zany story that is meant to remind children of Dr. Seuss’s Grinch.

Maccabee!  The Story of Hanukkah by Tilda Balsley.   Illus. by David Harrington.  Kar-Ben/Lerner.   Kdg. – Gr. 3.  The story of how Judah and the Maccabees fought the tyrant  Antiochus for the religious freedom of the Jews and the restoration of the Temple is retold in this animated rhyme punctuated by a repeated refrain: “Sometimes it only takes a few, / Who know what’s right, and do it, too.”  The rhythmic narrative is enhanced by bold paintings and would lend itself to readers’ theatre.

ASSOCIATION OF JEWISH LIBRARIES

www.ajljewishvalues.org

Click HANUKKAH BOOKS FROM VALUESFINDER to download a copy of this list that you can print and distribute at your library.

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Recent Holocaust Books for Children

Learning about the Holocaust is a searing experience for most children – and it should be. Children’s literature – fiction, non-fiction, and biography – does a better job in introducing the Holocaust than most textbooks, which tend to neutralize the horrific facts. A few of the titles on this list provide essential background about anti-Semitism and the conditions that gave rise to Nazism; others describe human experiences in ways that develop empathy and compassion; most raise questions that children will want to discuss with their parents or other trusted adults.

RECENT BOOKS about the HOLOCAUST from the JEWISH VALUESFINDER
Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah
Nisan 27, 5770 April 11, 2010

NON-FICTION

Product DetailsBogacki, Tomek. THE CHAMPION OF CHILDREN: THE STORY OF JANUSZ KORCZAK. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. 33 pages. ISBN: 978-0-374-34136-7. Elementary. Expressive acrylic illustrations by the author immediately set the tone of this Holocaust biography. Their tone fluctuates to match the mood of the text, which portrays Korczak’s life from youth to death, last showing him marching with the orphans he taught to the train that would take them all to their deaths.

Product DetailsDe Saix, Deborah Durland; Ruelle, Karen Gray. THE GRAND MOSQUE OF PARIS: A STORY OF HOW MUSLIMS RESCUED JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST. Holiday House, 2009. 40 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8234-2159. Primary, Elementary. This handsomely illustrated book, with paintings in shades of blue, gray, maize and gold, gives an account of how Jewish families, escaping Allied airmen, and various others (some in the Resistance) found respite and shelter in a North African Kabyle mosque in the heart of Paris.

Kacer, Kathy; McKay, Sharon E. WHISPERS FROM THE CAMPS. Penguin Canada, 2009. 151 pages. ISBN: 978-0-14-331252-9 . Middle-School, High-School. As in Whispers from the Ghettos, Kacer and McKay have documented individual true stories from the lives of teenage survivors of the Holocaust. In some cases, the lives of the teens are saved because of their special skills, e.g. knowledge of the German language or the ability to read aircraft blueprints. Many of the stories deal with the arrival at Auschwitz – selection, stripping, hair shearing, cold showers, thin clothing, repeated lineups for counting, etc. – but each is remarkable for being personal and detailed. Also included is a 5-minute play, “The Liberation of Dachau” and a glossary.

Product DetailsKacer, Kathy; McKay, Sharon E. WHISPERS FROM THE GHETTOS. Penguin Canada, 2009. 162 pages. ISBN: 978-0-14-331251-2. Middle-School, High-School. Original testimonies from survivors of the ghettos record the hardship, terror, and bravery that they experienced as young people during the Holocaust. Twelve accounts of ghetto life are included, showing the role adolescents played in securing food and necessities for their families. Very moving!

Product DetailsKoestler-Grack, Rachel. ELIE WIESEL: WITNESS FOR HUMANITY. Gareth Stevens, 2009. 112 pages. ISBN: 978-14339-0054-9. Middle-School. This biography covers the period from Wiesel’s childhood, through his horrific experiences in concentration camps, to his life and career after the Holocaust. Following the narrative there is a conversation with the director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about the meaning and message for youngsters of Wiesel’s life, plus reference aides.

Product DetailsMetselaar, Menno; van der Rol, Ruud. ANNE FRANK: HER LIFE IN WORDS AND PICTURES. Roaring Brook Press, 2009. 215 pages. ISBN: 978-1-59643-546-9. Elementary, Middle-School, High-School. First published in the Netherlands by the Anne Frank House, this draws on materials from the archives to give a history of the Frank family and their protectors, plus an account of the preserved Annex where the Frank family and others hid. The text is drawn from several sources including some adult books and Anne’s diary. The testimony of Rosa de Winter, who was with the three Frank women in Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen, is also given. Many photographs of the Frank family accompany the text of a handsome keepsake.

FICTION

Product DetailsClark, Kathy . GUARDIAN ANGEL HOUSE. Second Story Press, 2009. 225 pages. ISBN: 978-1-897187-58-6 . Elementary, Middle-School. Guardian Angel House is the nickname given to a convent run by the Sisters of Charity in Budapest that sheltered over 120 Jewish children during World War Two. Told from the point of view of twelve-year-old Susan, this is a story of survival, of growing up without family during childhood and adolescence, of Jewish children living in a protective and loving Catholic environment which is foreign to them, of mutual respect between people of different religions, of a young woman forced to learn courage at an early age. Based on the true story of the author’s mother and aunt, it is historical fiction at its best.

Product DetailsEngle, Margarita. TROPICAL SECRETS: HOLOCAUST REFUGEES IN CUBA. Henry Holt, 2009. 208 pages. ISBN: 978-0805089363. Middle-School. A coming-of-age story and an unusual piece of Holocaust history, told in free verse. 13-year old Daniel, a German refugee meets and then befriends a 12 year old Cuban girl after his ship is allowed to dock in Havana. Their story is effectively told in alternating narratives. Winner of the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Teens.

Product DetailsGleitzman, Morris. ONCE. Henry Holt, 2010. 176 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8050-9026-0. Elementary, Middle-School. The narrator is an imaginative and innocent Jewish child being sheltered in a convent. The son of Jewish booksellers, he believes that all of his parents’ troubles are because the Nazis don’t like Jewish books and want to rid the world of them. When he runs away from the convent in order to find his parents, he finds instead only devastation. Reality slowly dawns as the true horrors of the Holocaust are revealed.

Product DetailsHeuvel, Eric. THE SEARCH. Anne Frank House, 2009. 62 pages. ISBN: 978-0-374-464554. Elementary, Middle-School. Originally published in Dutch in 2007, A Family Secret and its sequel, The Search, tell overlapping stories of ordinary people during World War II. A Family Secret tells the story of Jeroen, a teenage boy, who is looking through his grandmother’s attic for items to sell at a yard sale. After he comes across scrapbooks and other artifacts, his grandmother Helena tells him for the first time about her experiences as a young girl in Amsterdam during the German occupation. Her best friend was Esther, a Jewish girl whose family fled from Germany to the Netherlands hoping for safety from the Nazis. When Esther’s family is sent to a concentration camp, Helena fears the worst, and assumes that Esther has died along with her parents. Years later, a chance meeting between Jeroen and Esther during a Memorial Day ceremony allows the boy to present his grandmother with her long-lost friend. Dutch artist Eric Heuvel uses pastel colors and a clear line style that has been compared to Tintin comics. The text is simplified for a younger audience. War is not glamorized in any way; neither the Nazis nor the victims are personalized. Because of the lack of violence, these two books would provide a good introduction to the topic for children as young as fifth grade.

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Passover Books from the Jewish Values Finder

BOOKS ABOUT PASSOVER from

THE JEWISH VALUESFINDER

RECENT TITLES

Balsley, Tilda. LET MY PEOPLE GO! Illus. by Ilene Richard. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2008. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-7241-1. Preschool, Primary

Colorful, cartoon-like pictures and a humorous rhyming text tell the story of Passover and the Ten Plagues through the use of five roles: the Narrator, Moses, Pharaoh, the Egyptians and the Chorus. Each role is printed in a different color, so the story could be acted out as Readers Theater at Seders, and could also be used in classroom or library presentations.

Cohen, Deborah Bodin. NACHSHON, WHO WAS AFRAID TO SWIM: A PASSOVER STORY. Illus. by Jago. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2009. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-8764-4. Preschool, Primary

Young Nachshon is known among his fellow Hebrew slaves as brave about everything except water. When Moses confronts Pharaoh and then leads the Jews out of Egypt, Nachshon overcomes his fear of water and is the first to walk into the Red Sea. This story about courage is illustrated handsomely in rich, glowing colors and with angular shapes that evoke a desert setting.

Fireside, Bryna J. PRIVATE JOEL AND THE SEWELL MOUNTAIN SEDER. Illus. by Shawn Costello. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2008. 48 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-7240-4. Primary, Elementary

Bryna Fireside has transformed a true account of a Seder held by Union soldiers during the Civil War into an easy-reading and appealing story in which three former slaves who are also soldiers in the Ohio 23rd join the twenty-one Jewish soldiers and their commander, William S. Rosecrans, in preparing for and then celebrating their Seder. As the preparations ensue and the Seder begins, Passover’s blessings, symbols, and meaning are extended to include the experiences of the African-American soldiers and their hope for freedom. Attractive, heavily-textured, full-color paintings adorn the story, written in a light, lively style and divided into short chapters.

Kimmelman, Leslie . THE LITTLE RED HEN AND THE PASSOVER MATZAH. Illus. by Paul Meisel. Holiday House, 2010. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8234-1952-4. Preschool, Primary

This Yiddish-inflected Passover version of the Little Red Hen nursery tale couldn’t be more fun! Those no-goodniks sheep, horse, and dog don’t have a moment to spare for their friend, Little Red Hen, as she goes about first growing the wheat, then grinding it, and then baking it into matzah for her Seder. When all three have the chutzpah to show up for the Seder, she remembers the words in the Haggadah: “Let all who are hungry come and eat,” and invites them in. And when it’s time for clean-up afterwards, guess who says, “Not I” this time. The combination of a rollicking story, bouncy illustrations, and the take-off on a tale most children have likely heard before make this a winner! Instructions for preparing and baking matzah are given.

Portnoy, Mindy Avra. TALE OF TWO SEDERS, A. Illus. by Valeria Cis. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2010. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-0-8225-9917-3. Preschool, Primary

A little girl describes the two Seders she goes to each year after her parents have divorced. While expressing both wistfulness and her wish for her parents to get back together, the story’s positive perspective is strong. At each Seder, she comments on the charoset and at the conclusion, her mother compares families to charoset – some sweeter than others, some stickier, but each tasty in its own way. Four charoset recipes follow the story, which is colorfully illustrated.

Weber, Elka.  THE YANKEE AT THE SEDER. Illustrated by Adam Gustavson.  Tricycle Press, 2009.  40 pages.  ISBN: 978-1-58246-256-1.  Primary, Elementary

The Civil War has just ended and Corporal Levy of the Union Army finds a Jewish family in Richmond, Virginia who invite him to their Seder. Having a Yankee at the Seder is shocking to the family’s young son but the traditional injunction “Let all who are hungry come and eat” trumps political differences. Written with touches of humor and warmly illustrated, the story is rich in Jewish values such as peoplehood and hospitality. Like Krensky’s Hanukkah at Valley Forge, it is based on “hearsay” history which may or may not have actually happened.

Ziefert, Harriet.  PASSOVER: CELEBRATING NOW, REMEMBERING THEN. Illus. by Karla Gudeon.  Blue Apple, 2010.  36 pages.  ISBN: 978-1-60905-020-7.  Preschool, Primary

Superlative in conception, design, and content, this Passover book captures both the meaning and the observance of the holiday in the present (now) and at the time of its origins (then). The text is direct and sparse, the folk-art illustrations are expansive and captivating, many spread across fold-out pages that very creatively link Passover’s contemporary and historical aspects. As a modern family prepares for Passover and then celebrates it at their Seder, each element of the Seder  is connected to the Passover narrative at a level of written and visual clarity that is perfect for children of many ages, especially younger ones.

AND DON’T FORGET…

Cohen, Barbara.  THE CARP IN THE BATHTUB.  Illus. by Joan Halpern. Kar-Ben Copies, 1987. 48 pages. ISBN: 0930494679. Primary, Elementary

Consider this a classic for Jewish children. It is timeless in its appeal and still popular with both children and adults. The plot, the writing style, and the evocation of an earlier time when gefilte fish were made and not bought are all heartwarming. So, too, are the illustrations which capture not just the two children’s well-meant attempts to keep a carp that they name Joe, after a deceased neighbor, from the cooking pot but also the characters’ love and respect for one another. Set shortly before Passover during the Depression, this highlights one food custom but does not explain the holiday.

Cohen, Barbara. MAKE A WISH, MOLLY. Illus. by Jones, Jan N. Jones.  Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1995. ISBN: 0440410584. Primary

A sequel to Molly’s Pilgrim, this shows Molly learning to reconcile Jewish and American traditions when a classmate’s birthday party occurs during Passover. Once again, Molly’s resourceful mother comes to the rescue. As in the earlier book, this is a sensitive portrayal of children’s relationships with classmates.

Goetz, Bracha . WHAT DO YOU SEE ON PESACH? Judaica Press, 2007. 16 pages. ISBN: 978-1-932443-64-6. Preschool

Photos of toddlers are matched with a concept related to Passover and with some additional photos of the objects associated with the concept. For example, the first double-page spread says: “Pesach is here. What do you see? A house so clean! How can that be?” The child is dressed in denim work clothes and objects used to clean the house are shown opposite her: a vacuum cleaner, sponge, broom, paper towels, pail, and mop. The book’s other concepts are food, the Seder table, drinks, clothes, the Haggadah, and the hidden afikomen. The children adorning each one are too adorable for words alone to do justice. Virtually all of the very simple text is in English except for the words kosos (cups), kos shel Eliyahu (Elijah’s cup), Seder, Hagaddah, and afikomen. However, because there is no glossary to explain these terms, this board book may have limited use. The photographs, in color, are bright, clear, and labeled.

Hanft, Josh .  THE MIRACLES OF PASSOVER. Illus. by Seymour Chwast. Blue Apple/Chronicle, 2007. 28 pages. ISBN: 10: 1-59354-600-9; 13: 978-1-59354-600-7. Primary

A cogent text, lively illustrations, and flaps to lift are the three notable features of this third book on which Hanft and Chwast have collaborated. It tells the story of the Exodus, contrasting the dignified figure of Moses with the rather effete one of Pharaoh, and concludes with scenes of two Seders, one from times past and one of today, complete with a Seder plate whose foods are discovered by lifting flaps. Chwast’s illustrations are deceptively simple because they convey so much meaning so economically. The colors are muted but the palette is varied so that there is much to look at on every page. As in The Miracles of Hanukkah, the text follows the Bible without fictional details being added.

Heiligman, Deborah. CELEBRATE PASSOVER WITH MATZAH, MAROR, AND MEMORIES. National Geographic, 2007. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4263-0018-9. Primary, Elementary

Another excellent book in the Holidays Around the World series, this is by the same author as Celebrate Hanukkah with Lights, Latkes, and Dreidels and follows the same format. Engaging color photos of Jews observing Passover in different parts of the world accompany a concise text that conveys the meaning and history of the holiday, its customs, and the observance of the Seder. Appended is more information about Passover, a recipe, and some recommended books and websites. Rabbi Shira Stern’s discussion of Passover concludes the book.

Kimmel, Eric A. WONDERS AND MIRACLES: A PASSOVER COMPANION. Scholastic, 2004. 136 pages. ISBN: 0439071755. Primary, Elementary, Middle-School, High-School, Adult

The traditional order of the Seder is the organizing principle of this superbly written and illustrated anthology. The lucid narrative blends history, tradition, modern practices, and Passover’s timeless meaning. It is extended by a fascinating selection of poetry, stories, and song lyrics, including a K’tonton tale and another about a protest rally on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The illustrations and book design are outstanding and draw from centuries of Haggadot, manuscripts, ritual objects, sculpture and paintings. A distinguished book for a wide range of interests and ages. Winner of a National Jewish Book Award.

Lehman-Wilzig, Tami . PASSOVER AROUND THE WORLD. Illus. by Elizabeth Wolf.  Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2007. 48 pages. ISBN: 978-1-58013-213-8. Primary, Elementary

Passover customs of Jews from different parts of the world are introduced to children in this brightly illustrated, well-designed book. Gibraltar, Turkey, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Iran, Morocco, and the United States are the countries whose customs are used to show each step of the Seder unfolding. A map and brief historical information about each place is also provided, along with recipes. Whereas Heiligman’s book Celebrate Passover with Maror, Matzah, and Memories focused on the meaning and rituals of Passover, this book focuses on national customs. There are few books for children about Jewish customs and practices in places other than Anglophone countries so this is welcome.

Olswanger, Anna.  SHLEMIEL CROOKS. Illus. by Paula Goodman Koz.  JuneBug/New South Books, 2005.  32 pages.  ISBN: 158838165X.  Primary, Elementary

This off-beat and funny story, set in St. Louis in the early 1900’s, is based on the author’s grandfather. It involves the attempted robbery of Reb Olschwanger’s saloon by two shlemiel crooks who are instigated by the ghost of Pharaoh and foiled by a talking horse and a neighborhood “shtuss.” Flavored heavily with a Yiddish inflected narration and illustrated with earthy, heavily outlined linocuts, this gem of a story requires considerable practice before reading aloud.  And it’s worth the effort.

Rouss, Sylvia . SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST HAGGADAH. Illus. by Katherine Janus Kahn. Kar-Ben/Lerner, 2007. 32 pages. ISBN: 978-1-58013-230-5. Preschool, Primary

Beginning with a brief overview of Passover, the remainder of the book follows the traditional Passover Haggadah in abbreviated form. It is written in style that young children will understand and enhanced by clever songs that are adapted from familiar ones like “Old Macdonald Had a Farm.” The illustrations are slightly less abstract than in the other Sammy Spider books and Sammy himself appears only peripherally.

Rush, Barbara and Cherie Karo Schwartz.  The KIDS’ CATALOG OF PASSOVER: A WORLDWIDE CELEBRATION OF STORIES, SONGS, CUSTOMS, CRAFTS, FOOD, AND FUN. Jewish Publication Society, 2000. 244 pages. ISBN: 0827606877. Primary, Elementary, Middle-School

Organized in relation to the Seder, this is filled with information, stories, crafts, games, recipes and songs. A drab, black and white format is offset by lively, informal writing, photographs of Jewish children, and a haimish attitude on the authors’ part.

Shulman, Lisa.  THE MATZO BALL BOY. Illus. by Rosanne Litzinger.  Dutton, 2005. 32 pages. ISBN: 0525471693. Primary

In another take-off on the Gingerbread Boy, the matzo ball boy careens through the village, evading the bubbe who created him, the yenta, the rabbi, and a sly fox with a “voice as smooth as schmaltz,” but not a poor man and his wife who invite him to their Seder, where he winds up in the soup! The illustrations by Rosanne Litzinger, who also illustrated the Sydney Taylor Award winning picture book, Chicken Soup By Heart, are rich and delicious – but, they don’t quite match the text in their depiction of the matzo ball boy. The use of Yiddish is a little contrived, as well. On the other hand, a group of K – Gr. 2 children to whom the story was read found it hilarious!

For more Passover titles, visit the Valuesfinder at www.ajljewishvalues.org

A copy of this list is available for you to print out here: PASSOVER BOOKS FROM VALUES

Linda R. Silver

March 2010

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