(Published by Cartwheel Books, Scholastic, Inc., 2003. Out of print.)
Association of Jewish Libraries 2003 Notable Book for Younger Readers
“Besides being fun, this book has a uniquely personal feel that reaches right to the heart and soul of its readers.” —Hanna Geshelin, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
Clever paper engineering turns The Passover Seder by Emily Sper into interactive educational fun. Kids can rotate a seder plate laden with bitter herb, charoset, etc., to match each item with its English and Hebrew names (transliteration is provided); pull a tab to “spill” a drop of wine for each of the 10 plagues; and look behind flaps to find the afikoman. The text outlines the steps of a seder and adds bonus facts (e.g., why the Red Sea doesn't always look blue). Bold yet polished graphics ensure a strong visual appeal.
This well-written book mixes a timeless story with lift-the-flap activities that give young children a literal feeling about the Passover holiday. Pages let children touch bumpy matzoh, scratchy “karpas” (herb) and the satiny pillow that cushions a Seder chair. They can “break” a matzoh, spin a Seder plate to match symbols with their names (in English and Hebrew), and "spill" a drop of wine for each of the 10 plagues. These activities support, rather than detract from, thesimple but dramatic text such as, “Moses raised his staff and the Red Sea split, forming two walls of water! We walked on the bottom of the sea until we reached the other side. We were free!” This book would be a good read-aloud all year round, to reinforce the history of the Jews, and to remind children of the celebration that will come again each spring. 2003, Scholastic, Ages 2 to 6, $9.99. Reviewer: Donna Freedman
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
Children ages 3-7 will enjoy Emily Sper’s “The Passover Seder: Touch, Turn, Open and Learn!” (Cartwheel Books, 2003, $9.99). The seder plate turns, the Haggadah opens “back to front” like a real Hebrew book, the matzah cover lifts and the afikomen can be “broken.” The use of Hebrew, in Hebrew type and transliterated, gives the beginning Hebrew student a challenge. The Hebrew pronunciation key includes suggestions for saying a proper Hebrew “ch” sound, and the author explains that there are different ways to pronounce the same words. Extra details that young sedergoers might not know abound, such as the fact that matzah is made in less than 18 minutes. Sper writes as though she and the reader are recalling an Exodus in which they participated: “We walked on the bottom of the sea until we reached the other side. We were free! We were safe!” Besides being fun, this book has a uniquely personal feel that reaches right to the heart and soul of its readers. —Hanna Geshelin
Emily Sper’s “The Passover Seder” (Scholastic) lets the young Seder guest “touch, turn, open, and learn” about what is for many families the ritual event of the year. Sper’s interactive book has moving cut-outs on every page that take the reader through the Seder, letting your child “break” the middle matzo, “spill” a drop of wine for each of the 10 plagues and “open” the door for Elijah. Bilingual bonus: The book includes the Hebrew words for key Seder terms, along with a transliteration and an English translation. —Aliza Phillips
Surprisingly, this seemingly light-fare, inexpensive book is loaded with pertinent information presented in an engaging format. After a brief introduction, which includes a Hebrew pronunciation guide, page after page shares key aspects of the seder, using an interactive format in which readers manipulate pieces of the illustration to better understand the textual explanation. Sturdy paper stock offers the opportunity to “break” matzah, to turn the seder plate and to move Moses through the separated Red Sea.Symbols and the underlying story are clearly explained on an elementary level with the accompanying colorful illustrations obvious in their intent. Even though the material is presented in a nonfiction format rather than through a distinct storyline, young readers and groups will be drawn to finish this inviting book completely, in one sitting.
The Associated Press
In “The Passover Seder” (Scholastic, $9.99, ages 3-7), children can spin a paper plate to match pictures of the symbolic shank bone and bitter herb to their Hebrew names, and they can pretend to drop some wine to mark each of the 10 plagues with the help of a tipsy glass. Unlike many children’s Passover books that are simplified versions of the Haggadah, the story of the holiday that also acts as a step-by-step seder guide, Emily Sper’s book is a precursor to the family gathering, explaining the customs that children will soon see. —Samantha Critchell
Scholastic Press Release
From Emily Sper, the innovative creator of Hanukkah: A Counting Book in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish comes The Passover Seder (Cartwheel Books/Scholastic; February 2003; $9.99; Ages 3-7).The Passover Seder offers a unique tool for familiarizing young children with the background and symbols of this remarkable custom. Along with a simple retelling of the Passover story, this novelty book takes readers through a hands-on seder experience. Young readers can open a Hagaddah; turn a seder plate to match symbolic foods with their names; lift the napkin and “break” the middle matzah; touch matzah, parsley, and a pillow while reading the Four Questions; pour drops of wine to symbolize the ten plagues; help the Jews cross the Red Sea; search for the hidden afikomen; and open the door to welcome Elijah the Prophet. With this fun and engaging book, children everywhere will be able to have hands on experience with the ritual of the Passover seder.