cover image THE MATZAH MAN: A Passover Story

THE MATZAH MAN: A Passover Story

Naomi Howland, . . Clarion, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-11750-5

Howland (Latkes, Latkes, Good Enough to Eat) makes the story of the Gingerbread Man kosher for Passover in a picture book that improves with repeat readings. Set in an indeterminately old-fashioned community where ladies wear white gloves, hats and fox stoles to go shopping, the story opens as the baker has made a little man out of leftover matzoh dough. Here it is Cousin Tillie, sampling her tender brisket; Auntie Bertha, the shopper; Grandpa Solly, chopping onions for gefilte fish; Miss Axelrod, adding the last matzoh ball to a pot of chicken soup; and a variety of animals who chase after the impish Matzah Man. The storytelling seems attenuated the first time around—but all those matzoh-chasers play a role in the satisfying surprise finale. Children will want to return to the beginning to see how neatly Howland sets up her premise. Collage elements (these create the Matzah Man) mingle unobtrusively with almost drab gouaches in the illustrations, which, despite their unprepossessing first impression, are crammed with lively details. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)