A pair of New England’s award-winning children’s writers enliven Passover with new books that are among this season’s crop of holiday titles for kids.
Acclaimed illustrator Jill Weber and prominent children’s writer Vivian Kirkfield – both from just over the border in New Hampshire – are perfectly paired in “Pippa’s Passover Plate.” Children’s author Tracy Newman, from Connecticut, offers a spirited family Seder in “Around the Passover Table.”
The lively and brightly illustrated books will engage and entertain young ones throughout the eight-day “Festival of Freedom,” which begins this year on Friday evening, April 19.
“Pippa’s Passover Plate”
Vivian Kirkfield; illustrated by Jill Weber
Holiday House; ages 4-8
In this playful story with rhyming verse, Pippa is an adorable pink-eared gray mouse, who hurries and scurries about her house getting ready for Passover. Kids will get in on the lighthearted adventure when Pippa can’t find her special shiny gold Seder plate that displays the ritual foods eaten at the ceremonial meal.
Pippa searches bins and boxes, tossing about rolling pins and pairs of socks, but the plate is nowhere to be found. When she ventures outside through her mouse hole to her garden and the fields beyond, the small but feisty Pippa asks for help from a big, scary black cat and a slithering snake. A wise owl and Golda Fish help Pippa find the plate in the most unlikely place, and Pippa and her friends gather at her home for the Seder.
Kirkfield, also an early childhood educator, offers a kid-friendly introduction to the Seder. Weber brings the story to life with a palette of springtime yellows and greens. Double-page spreads put readers right in the middle of the tall grasses and flowers of the fields and at a fish-filled glistening pond. The last page identifies all of the symbolic foods on Pippa’s Passover Seder plate.
“Around the Passover Table”
Tracy Newman; illustrated by Adriana Santos
Albert Whitman; ages 4-8
Join a family and their guests around their lively Passover table as they add warmth and joy to the Seder rituals, from washing hands to dipping greens, splitting the matzah for the afikoman, and welcoming Elijah the Prophet. Each verse ends with the refrain, “At our table for this Seder night,” making it easy for kids to chime in. Santos’ animated illustrations make this Seder an inclusive one, with an ethnically diverse group of family and friends and lots of energetic kids who are having fun. The author’s note at the back of the book explains Passover and includes definitions of Passover-related words.
“A Seder for Grover”
Joni Kibort Sussman; illustrated by Tom Leigh
Kar-Ben; ages 1-4
Young fans of Grover, Big Bird, and their friends will be excited to join them ‒ and even Cookie Monster at a Seder at Avigail’s house in this new “Sesame Street” board book. The friends eat matzah, read the Haggadah, and ask the Four Questions. Sussman, the longtime publisher of scores of award-winning Jewish kids’ books, teams up with Sesame Street/Muppet book illustrator Tom Leigh to introduce the youngest kids to Passover.
“The Best Four Questions”
Rachelle Burk; illustrated by Melanie Florian
Kar-Ben; ages 3-8
This year at Passover, it’s Marcy’s turn to ask the Four Questions at her family’s Seder. The spunky girl is the youngest in her family and she’s just learned to read. Her brother Jake is not so happy that he will no longer get to ask the Four Questions and won’t be the center of attention for the ritual. But the inquisitive young Marcy – who turns down all offers of help to prepare for her debut – surprises her family with her own ideas of what questions to ask, like “Why does Uncle Benjy always fall asleep during the Seder?” and “How many matzah balls are in grandma’s chicken soup?” In the end, big brother Jake lends a helping hand and they read the Hagaddah’s Four Questions together. Florian’s brightly colored animated illustrations capture Marcy’s enthusiasm for the festive holiday.
Susan Lynn Meyer; illustrated by Mette Engell
Kar-Ben; ages 4-8
Award-wining childern’s author Meyer serves up a humor-filled Passover tale, with the human Winkler family that lives in Apartment 4B, “abovestairs,” and the Mouse family that lives “belowstairs,” beneath the Winklers’ floorboards.
As the two families get ready to celebrate Passover in their separate homes, the Mouse family is worried because the Winklers have stored all their matzah in a tightly sealed tin box. Will the determined young Miriam Mouse be able to find enough matzah in the Winkler’s apartment for her family’s Seder? Kids will delight when Miriam and the young boy, Eli Winkler, come face-to-face on the hunt for the afikoman and Miriam finds the perfect solution for both families. Engell enlivens the story with large, colorful illustrations from the mouse-size perspective.