cover image The Matzah That Papa Brought Home

The Matzah That Papa Brought Home

Fran Manushkin. Scholastic, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47146-6

Bittinger's background as a portrait painter shines throughout the luminous holiday scenes in his picture book debut. One family's celebration of Passover gets off to a happy start as a bearded patriarch arrives home, laden with shopping bags, his three children clamoring to view the contents. From that opening, Manushkin constructs a ``House That Jack Built'' version of the celebration: ``This is the Passover Seder we shared/ to eat the feast that Mama made/ with the matzah that Papa brought home.'' Though her cumulative text deserves applause-the rhymes remain easy and unforced as all the familiar aspects of the ritual are enumerated-it's the people here, and the visual details, that tell the tale. Occasionally reminiscent of Ted Rand's work, Bittinger's character studies are gems: from the glowing face of the daughter clutching her Haggadah to the almost surreal evocation of the plagues of Egypt to the study of many hands grasping at the feast table's bounty, these are illustrations to savor. Ages 2-7. (Feb.)