cover image The Passover Mouse

The Passover Mouse

Joy Nelkin Wieder, illus. by Shahar Kober. Doubleday, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-9848-9551-6

Mice are no strangers to Passover picture books, but they’re usually anthropomorphized seder participants; here, a mouse is just a mouse. In a small village, a widow named Rivka prepares for Passover by scrubbing her home from top to bottom and rooting out any leavened food—which is forbidden to those who strictly observe the holiday. Just when it looks like all the holiday housekeeping is done, a mouse finds a bit of bread and scampers across the village with it, setting off a chain reaction that may require the stringent cleaning to begin all over again. Although the premise may strike many readers as esoteric (it’s based on a passage from the Talmud, the ancient commentary on Jewish law), Wieder’s brisk prose—punctuated by the refrain “A mouse! A mouse! Brought bread into our house!”—and Kober’s warmhearted cartooning successfully turn the story into one of community cooperation and celebration. There’s good news for the mouse, too: Rivka leaves a plate of matzo outside the little rodent’s home in the wall. “On this night,” she says, “even a thief shouldn’t go to bed hungry!” Ages 3–7. [em](Jan.) [/em]