This is Our Seder

Ziporah Hildebrandt, Author, Robin Roraback, Illustrator Holiday House $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1436-9
The text for this inviting volume couldn't be simpler, as Hildebrandt (Sea Girl and the Dragon King) deftly pares down the Passover celebration to its most basic concepts. ""This is our night for coming together,"" she begins, then, retaining the same sentence construction, she intro-duces ""the plate for teaching,"" the ""pillows for leaning,"" the haggadah (""the story for telling""), etc. It's Roraback's (Red, White and Blue: The Story of the American Flag) unusually spirited illustrations that serve up the storytelling. She pairs close-ups of specific items (e.g., the seder plate) with full-page views of a large, plain-looking family, everyone from grandparents to a baby, all seated at the holiday table, and she keeps the visual rhythm lively by ""panning"" the table in her different scenes. The characters are determinedly plain--the beauty here is in the details. Of the ""pillows for leaning,"" for example, one is decorated with an infant Moses among the bulrushes, a couple of fish smiling up at him; when the ""story for telling"" is introduced, Roraback shows the children putting on a Passover puppet show for their elders. The compositions are calm but busy, with plenty of background ac-tion: a dog campaigning for handouts, a girl kicking off her party shoes as the evening wears on. Despite the explanatory note at the end, however, terms like ""afikomen"" and rites like opening the door (for Elijah) go undefined, so that this book is best enjoyed by families who already know the special significance of Passover. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Genre: Children's
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