March 2021 — The Association of Jewish Libraries is proud to recommend five recent Passover picture books for children. These titles uphold the highest standards of authentic Jewish representation and holiday spirit in both writing and illustration. AJL recommends them for use by families, in schools, and in libraries.
Click on the titles to purchase recommended books from Bookshop.org using AJL’s affiliate links. Your purchase will benefit the Association of Jewish Libraries and independent bookstores. For more information about the Sydney Taylor Book Award, click HERE. For more information about AJL’s Holiday Highlights, click HERE.
Welcoming Elijah: a Passover Tale with a Tail by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Susan Gal, published by Charlesbridge, is the 2021 winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the picture book category. This warmly illustrated, poetic book parallels the experiences of a young boy at a Passover seder and a small white kitten outdoors. When the boy opens the door to welcome the prophet Elijah, he finds a furry friend instead. Simple text, diverse characters, and a timeless feel make this a story to be treasured.
Miriam at the River by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Khoa Le, published by Kar-Ben Publishing, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, is a 2021 Sydney Taylor Honor Book in the picture book category. In this biblical retelling, the poetic tale of young Miriam placing baby Moses in the river is strikingly and vividly illustrated in palettes of blues, oranges, and purples.
The Four Questions by Lynne Sharon Schwartz, illustrated by Ori Sherman, published by Levine Querido, is on AJL’s inaugural Holiday Highlights list for Spring 2021. Rich illustrations depict anthropomorphized animals participating in elements of the Passover seder in this second edition of a 1989 publication, updated with an endnote on the art. Ceremonial but accessible language outlines the story of the Exodus and introduces the traditional four questions, included in Hebrew upside down on the page, allowing the book to be read from either direction and encouraging a shared experience perfect for intergenerational read-alouds or a seder night itself.
Meet the Matzah written and illustrated by Alan Silberberg, published by Viking, is on AJL’s inaugural Holiday Highlights list for Spring 2021. In a classroom populated by anthropomorphic bread products, a disruptive classmate hijacks matzah Alfie Koman’s retelling of the Exodus story for Passover. Alfie must find his voice and rescue his favorite holiday from bread Loaf’s goofy revisions. Silberberg’s delightful, cartoonish illustrations match the exuberant tone of this hilarious read-aloud, suitable for Passover celebrants and holiday newcomers alike.
The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel, illustrated by Sean Rubin, published by Neal Porter Books at Holiday House, is on AJL’s inaugural Holiday Highlights list for Spring 2021. Readers needn’t be familiar with the original I.L. Peretz story, “The Magician”, to be wowed by this fresh retelling, set in depression-era Washington DC. Illustrator Sean Rubin’s incredibly detailed depictions of the Capital city in springtime perfectly complement Kusel’s tale of poor Muriel, whose bare table magically overflows with a Passover feast after her encounter with a juggler who may… or may not… be the prophet Elijah.