Review of Afikomen

Afikomen Afikomen
by Tziporah Cohen; illus. by Yaara Eshet
Preschool, Primary    Groundwood    32 pp.
3/23    9781773066066    $19.99
e-book ed.  9781773066073    $16.99

Cohen’s inventive picture book uses graphic-novel conventions and is ­wordless but for the front and back matter and Hebrew and Aramaic text incorporated into the illustrations. It opens with a definition: the afikomen is a piece of matzo broken off early in the Passover Seder to be eaten at the end of the meal. The varied traditions associated with the ­afikomen (hiding it, stealing it, ­play-acting with it) are detailed in an appended author’s note, but first comes an adventure that leans into the playfulness of this child-friendly part of the Seder. Eshet’s appropriately springtime-hued ink and watercolor panels provide clues (including text in the open Haggadah in front of each guest) indicating where in the proceedings we are. The matzo is split, and as the family members launch into telling the Passover story, their dog hides the afikomen under the table. Three children follow…and find themselves in biblical Egypt among the enslaved Jews and playing a role in aiding baby Moses after his mother and sister place him in a basket on the Nile to save his life. All ends well for baby and travelers in a generally lighthearted tale, but one that nods at the more serious history behind the holiday and at the concept of reliving the Jewish enslavement on Passover.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees.

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