New Picture Books for Passover

New Picture Books for Passover

Time to shop for afikoman gifts! Here are some fun new children’s books your children will enjoy all year long.

The Passover Mouse
By Joy Nelkin Wieder, illustrated by Shahar Kober
Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020

“The Passover Mouse” was inspired by a question in the Talmud: What if a mouse steals a piece of bread before the holiday? In Joy Nelkin Wieder’s fast-paced story, a little mouse disrupts a town’s Passover preparations when it steals a piece of chometz—leavened bread—and leaves a trail of crumbs through homes that already have been swept clean. With so much work to be done, will the villagers be ready for Passover? Children will love the bouncy refrain — “A mouse! A mouse! Brought bread into our house!” — with an ending as satisfying as a seder with friends.

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail
By Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal
Charlesbridge, 2020

How will tonight be different from all other nights? “Inside, there was light. Outside, there was darkness.” A boy welcomes friends and family inside to enjoy a seder. As they celebrate indoors, a stray kitten roams outside. Lesléa Newman’s lyrical text compares and contrasts inside vs. outside, blending with Susan Gal luminous illustrations of light and dark. When it’s time for the boy’s favorite part of the seder — opening the door for Elijah — both the boy and the kitten are in for a delightful surprise. An explanation of Passover rituals in an author’s note makes the book inviting for all.

The Generous Fish
By Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Frances Tyrell
Wisdom Tales Press, 2020

Though technically not a Passover story, the cover of “The Generous Fish” reminds me of The Carp in the Bathtub, a childhood favorite that I always connect with Jewish holidays. Parents might also find this story reminiscent of “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister. Long ago, in a village by the sea, a young boy befriends a giant fish with golden scales. The valuable scales provide wealth to the community, but at what cost to the fish? Jacqueline Jules based her story on two folktales, one Hasidic, one classic. As the author writes in an afterword, “The environment is a concern to us all. Sacred sources from every religion provide guidance on how humans should interact with the natural world.” This story’s themes of generosity, friendship, and environmental stewardship are relevant throughout the year.

Asteroid Goldberg: Passover in Outer Space
By Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Merrill Rainey
Intergalactic Afikomen, 2020

For the little astronauts in your home, “Asteroid Goldberg: Passover in Outer Space” takes kids on a fantastic voyage to celebrate the holiday in space. The debut picture book of this new publisher, Intergalactic Afikomen (how appropriate?), asks kids to imagine what seder might be like in outer space. First the family must clean the floating chometz on the spaceship. Next they scoop up matzo ball moons from Jupiter. Which guests will they invite? With Brianna Caplan Sayres’ lively rhyme and Merrill Rainey’s interstellar illustrations, imaginations will soar.

Gittel’s Journey
By Lesléa Newman, art by Amy June Bates
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2019

Passover is the perfect time for relatives to share their immigrant stories. This beautiful picture book, which recently won The National Jewish Book Award and the Sydney Taylor Book Award, is based on two true stories from author Lesléa Newman’s childhood, which she shares in the author’s note. In this story, Gittel and her mother are supposed to immigrate to America together. But before they can board the ship, an inspector tells Gittel’s mother that an eye infection bars her from traveling. Mama insists that little nine-year-old Gittel travel alone. “Home is not safe for us. You are going to America to have a better life,” she says. Mama gives Gittel a piece of paper with the name and address of a cousin. But the ship is so big, and Gittel is so small. How will she endure? Amy June Bates’ gorgeous illustrations reflect the somber tones of the time period, while this heart-breaking, hopeful tale of immigration still resonates today. 

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