cover image The Passover Cowboy

The Passover Cowboy

Barbara Diamond Goldin, illus. by Gina Capaldi. Apples & Honey, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68115-527-2

This story unfolds not in the American west but in Argentina during the early 20th century. Jacob and his family have emigrated from a Russian shtetl to a farm in the pampas, where he befriends Benito, a young gaucho. The story that ensues is typical for this minigenre: Jacob invites Benito to his family’s Passover seder, but receives an equivocal response; a mild, semicomic calamity erupts at the moment of Elijah’s “arrival,” which is expertly resolved by Benito, who has decided to attend (“You know, we struggled for our freedom, too, here in Argentina,” he notes). Goldin’s (Cakes and Miracles) earnest writing propels the action, but it’s Capaldi’s (Red Bird Sings) sun-infused watercolors that make the story sing. She lyrically evokes the sense of new possibilities on the wide-open Argentinian plains, the exhilaration of feeling safe and free, and the coming together of two different cultures. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)