cover image Raquela’s Seder

Raquela’s Seder

Joel Edward Stein, illus. by Sara Ugolotti. Kar-Ben, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-72842-429-3

In Inquisition-era Spain, Raquela Rivera and her parents, portrayed with light brown skin, are forbidden by royal decree from practicing Judaism. The family secretly celebrates Shabbat each week in the wine cellar under their house, but Raquela yearns for a seder. Papa, a fisherman, has a plan: forgoing the cellar, they sail far away from land and hold their seder in safety at sea, drawing “a small bowl of salt water” up into the boat. As her parents tell the Passover story, inset images portray the Exodus, and Raquela feels a kinship to the family’s ancestors in Egypt, who endured hardships and gained freedom by another, miraculous, encounter with the sea. Stein’s premise is lyrically illustrated in Ugolotti’s atmospheric art: the little boat is illuminated by a huge full moon, and the family celebrates accompanied by starry skies and undulating waves in shades of greens and blues. Back matter includes a historical note. Ages 5–9. (Feb.)