Subscribe to The Horn Book

Dayenu, 2015!

Here’s an updated list of Passover books to nibble on when the matzo runs dry.


balsley_it's a mitzvah, groverTwo Shalom Sesame series entries, written by Tilda Balsley and Ellen Fischer and illustrated by Tom Leigh, follow Sesame Street characters in Israel as they learn about doing good deeds. In It’s a Mitzvah, Grover!, Grover and friends clean up a playground after a storm, though Moishe the grouch hesitates to participate. In Grover and Big Bird’s Passover Celebration, Big Bird joins Grover and learns about Passover as they do mitzvot en route to a seder. The tone is un-preachy and preschoolers will recognize the friendly cast of characters. (both Kar-Ben, 2013)

glaser_hoppy passoverThe rabbit family that celebrated Hanukkah in author Linda Glaser and illustrator Daniel Howarth’s Hoppy Hanukkah! now joyously observes Passover. In Hoppy Passover!, siblings Violet and Simon participate in traditions such as reciting the Four Questions and preparing the Seder plate. The rabbit-children’s infectious excitement comes across in both text and illustrations (though the cheerful, pastel-colored palette and bouncing bunnies may bring to mind another springtime holiday). (Whitman, 2011)

latimer_dayenuOh, wait; that’s not unleavened bread, it’s a board book. In Dayenu: A Favorite Passover Song, Miriam Latimer illustrates everyone’s favorite Passover ditty. Instead of tongue-twisting Hebrew lyrics (fifteen verses worth!), the condensed text is twelve pages of cheerful, toddler-friendly gratitude, mostly in English: “When the Jews came out of Egypt, / That was enough to make us happy. / Sing a song and show we’re happy, / Dayenu!” Even if you can’t keep straight your hotzianus and mitzrayims, everyone can belt out the bouncy Hebrew chorus: “Day-Day-enu, / Day-Day-enu, / Day-Day-enu, / Dayenu, Dayenu, Dayenu!” (Repeat, with gusto!) (Scholastic, 2012)

A Sweet Passover, written by Lesléa Newman (of Heather Has Two Mommies fame) and illustrated by David Slonim, finds young Miriam celebrating Passover with her extended family. Though she loves matzo—topped with everything from butter and cream cheese to cottage cheese and tuna salad—by the end of the eight-day matzo-thon, she’s “sick, sick, sick” of it. Grandpa brings her back into the fold with his special matzo brei (he calls it “Passover French toast”; a stretch, IMHO). A kid-friendly recipe is included for those who, like Miriam, are feeling a little matzo’ed out. (Abrams, 2012)



adler_passoverDavid A. Adler follows up 2011’s The Story of Hanukkah with the The Story of Passover. The straightforward text touches on Jacob and the Children of Israel; slavery and Pharaoh’s cruelty; Moses’s encounter with the burning bush; the ten plagues; and the Red Sea escape. Jill Weber’s expressive, rich-hued acrylics play up the drama (ew, lice) but also offer reassurance and even some humor through small, eye-pleasing details. (Holiday, 2014)

edwards_maxmakescakeIn Michelle Edwards’s Max Makes a Cake Max and Daddy plan to make a surprise cake for Mama’s Passover birthday, but time’s a-wastin’ as Daddy tries to settle Max’s fussy baby sister. Worried that there will be no cake, Max has a great idea, and a “hurry, hurry, hurry Passover cake” is the result. Bold, amiable illustrations by Charles Santoso underscore Max’s relatable anticipation and frustration, and his final triumphant accomplishment. (Random, 2014)

glaser_stone soup with matzoh ballsStone Soup with Maztoh Balls: A Passover Tale in Chelm begins with a stranger arriving in Chelm on Passover. Let “all who are hungry come and eat,” sure, but the villagers don’t have much to share. The stranger produces a stone, promising to make matzoh ball soup…and you know the rest. Linda Glaser’s well-cadenced text and Maryam Tabatabaei’s digital-looking art are as light as the Chelmites’ matzo balls (“…so light they can almost fly”). (Whitman, 2014)

kimmelman_little red hen and the passover matzahWho will help make the Passover matzah? When Sheep, Horse, and Dog prove unreliable, stereotypical Jewish mother Little Red Hen (somewhat grudgingly) takes up the reins. The good-natured cadence of Leslie Kimmelman’s text for The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah extends the mother-hen comparison, while Paul Meisel’s affectionate ink, watercolor, and pastel illustrations keep things from going too far over the top. An author’s note about Passover and a matzah recipe are appended. (Holiday, 2010)

Korngold_Seder in the DesertThe narrator of Seder in the Desert describes what it’s like to have a Passover seder in a desert setting “just like the Israelites.” Jamie Korngold’s plain text, and the accompanying photographs, serve as an advertisement for the author’s Adventure Rabbi program (with information about it included at the end); however, the photos of the many people participating, particularly the kids, make it look like a good time. Kar-Ben, 2014)

lanton_LittlestLevineHannah, star of Sandy Lanton’s The Littlest Levine, resents being the littlest one in the family. But when her grandfather teaches her to chant the Four Questions for their Passover seder (the job of the youngest at the table), Hannah is finally grateful. The sentimental story is accompanied by pleasant pastel-colored illustrations featuring a pinpoint-eyed family. An explanation of the holiday is included. (Kar-Ben, 2014)

passover lambMiriam, protagonist of Linda Elovitz Marshall’s The Passover Lamb, is looking forward to singing the Four Questions at her grandparents’ Passover seder. But when a newborn lamb on the family’s farm is abandoned by its mother, Miriam worries she’ll have to miss the seder to care for the unwanted baby. Her solution is unsurprising but charming; soft illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss reinforce Miriam’s affection for the (particularly cute) baby sheep. (Random House, 2013)

portnoy_tale of two sedersIn A Tale of Two Seders by Mindy Avra, a young girl has gone to six different Passover seders in the three years since her parents’ divorce. At the sixth seder, attended by both her mom and dad, the girl’s mother likens families to different varieties of charoset, a traditional dish: “Some have more ingredients…But each one is tasty in its own way.” The realistic story is accompanied by Valeria Cis’s pattern-filled illustrations. Charoset recipes are included. (Kar-Ben, 2010)

longest nightA young Jewish slave describes the ten plagues and the Israelites’ hurried flight from Egypt in The Longest Night: A Passover Story. Illustrator Catia Chien’s dark, expansive acrylic paintings are well matched with Laurel Snyder’s impeccable rhyming couplets (although some illustrations, such as a full-page, open-jawed wolf, may be too intense for very young readers). The concluding spreads, featuring the parting of the Red Sea and a gorgeous sunrise, are a treat. (Random House/Schwartz & Wade, 2013)

strauss_elijah doorIn a small village long ago, the once-close Lippa and Galinsky families feuded. With the rabbi, their children (who loved one another) enacted a plan to bring their families together for Seder so that Passover could truly be celebrated. How the whole village participates makes Linda Leopold Strauss’s The Elijah Door: A Passover Tale a warmhearted story of reconciliation and togetherness. Strikingly painted woodcuts by Alexi Natchev illustrate the Passover tale. (Holiday, 2012)

weber_yankee at the sederIn 1865, a Jewish family in Virginia hosts an unanticipated Passover guest: a Yankee soldier. The “festival of freedom,” here celebrated by people with conflicting beliefs but a common cultural history, has great meaning. Elka Weber’s The Yankee at the Seder, a well-told tale based on actual events, is accompanied by Adam Gustavson’s richly textured oil paintings. Endnotes provide more information about the real-life figures and the Passover holiday. (Tricycle, 2009)

ziefert_passover celebrating now remembering thenHarriet Ziefert’s appealing Passover: Celebrating Now, Remembering Then presents contemporary Passover rituals alongside a retelling of the festival story. Left-hand pages include “Now” information while right-hand gatefold pages open to reveal the “Then” side: additional details about the Passover tale. Karla Gudeon’s unfussy illustrations against natural-paper-textured backgrounds help illuminate events. The decorated endpapers are adorned with holiday symbols. (Blue Apple, 2010)



Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind