cover image HAD GADYA: A Passover Song

HAD GADYA: A Passover Song

, , afterword by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld. . Roaring Brook, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-033-4

As the dishes are cleared and the Passover Seder begins to wind down, many families end their celebration with the rousing traditional folk song "Had Gadya." In his picture-book interpretation, Chwast (The 12 Circus Rings ) employs a breezy, slightly chunky folk-art style to depict the song's action in a bustling, Old-World setting. The verses tell the story of how a goat kicks off a chain of events that ends with a visit from God himself. "An only goat,/ an only goat/ My father bought/ for two zuzim," begin the lyrics. Before long, a dog and cat join the fray and a fire ensues. When an ox starts more trouble, a butcher, an angel of death and God are added to the mix. The cumulative style holds particular appeal for children who are likely to enjoy guessing who or what comes next, and mastering the order of the lyrics. Adults may well find deeper meaning in the song's circle-of-life symbolism. As the story progresses Chwast's kindly-looking villagers—rendered in a cheery palette of acrylics—lay in supplies and prepare for the Seder. Strassfeld's afterword discusses the history and meanings of the song, and additional lyrics in Aramaic, as well as a printed musical arrangement are included so that families may enjoy this version at home. All ages. (Mar.)