Anticipate the four questions and more, with these picture books for kids that use stories to share teachings and traditions, appreciation and celebration of the upcoming holidays
“A Place for Elijah” by Kelly Easton Ruben, illustrated by Joanne Friar (Kar-Ben) is a story about hospitality and kindness, with an explanation of Passover customs – particularly the cup and place at the table left for Elijah — around a family’s seder table. As the members of the family come to understand, “You never know how Elijah comes, only that he does.”
“ABC Passover Hunt” by Tilda Balsey, illustrated by Helen Poole (Kar-Ben) is a book of puzzles that follow alphabetically. Each page instructs young readers to search for something, match, identify items in the bright illustrations, follow a maze to find chametz, or point to the things that don’t belong. Combined, the activities engage children in learning about holiday traditions and history – and entertain them too.
“More than Enough: A Passover Story” by April Halprin Wayland, illustrated by Katie Kath (Dial Books) emphasizes gratitude and the many blessings present in the moment. The title comes from the familiar song sung at the Seder, “Dayenu,” which means “it would have been enough.” The illustrations capture the symbols of the seder, and the candied fruit slices too.
Visually appealing in a collage format, “On One Foot” by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Nuria Balaguer (Kar-Ben) retells the story of a young boy who seeks a teacher who will tell him “the whole Torah while standing on one foot.” Young boys and others try the one-footed pose inspired by a bird, only to topple over. Ultimately Rabbi Hillel answers the question with the golden rule, “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” While the story isn’t about Passover, its message is still timely for its universal appeal.
And, looking ahead to Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, “Shmulik Paints the Town” by Linda Rose, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, is a charming tale, designed in a beautiful style that reflects street art and urban life, mixing black and white and bursts of color on a single page. A painter named Shmulik is given the job of decorating the park and painting a mural. Looking for inspiration, he can’t seem to get started and finds all sorts of other things to do – many parents of the young readers will identify with Shmulik’s dilemma. He is helped by a companion who finds his own inspiration. This is Rose’s debut children’s book.