The Longest Night: A Passover Story by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Catia Chien
This Passover picture book tells the story of the Exodus from the point of view of a young slave girl. Readers first get a sense of the harsh environment and difficult lives of the Jewish people: the heat, the hard labor, the slavery. Then come the plagues, one after another. Finally there is the Exodus itself, the thrill and fear of fleeing in the darkness. And finally, the miracle of the sea splitting in two, giving them safe passage away from Egypt.
Written in rhyme, Snyder has created a book filled with rhythm and a story that moves swiftly along through the different parts of the Exodus. Her choice of telling the story from the point of view of a child makes the story all the more personal and dramatic.
Chien’s illustrations are just as dramatic with their deep color palette. Especially moving are the natural moments, when the little girl finds openness and freedom in the world around her, though she can’t find it personally. At these moments, the sky is huge and beautiful, but quickly the grit and sand return.
A powerful and lovely exploration of the Old Testament tale of the Exodus given a fresh and personal aspect. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.
The Passover Lamb by Linda Elovitz Marshall, illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss
Miriam has been selected to sing the Four Questions at the seder, the special Passover meal, at her grandparent’s house. She has been practicing over and over again. When she discovers that Snowball, one of their ewes, is going to have a baby, the family wonders if it will disrupt their Passover plans. Snowball has her lambs in time, but her third lamb is ignored and she refuses to nurse him. Miriam is very worried for the little lamb, but also wants to head to the seder and sing her part. So she comes up with a clever plan to care for the newborn lamb and be able to be with her extended family. This Passover story is a gentle reminder about compassion and a beautiful introduction to Passover.
Marshall writes with a gentleness that weaves throughout the entire story. She allows Miriam to really be the center of the story, her family members are important but Miriam is certainly the lead. She is the one who discovers that the ewe is going to have a baby, bottle feeds the newborn lamb and figures out the solution, all on her own. This is child-led compassion that comes from a deep and natural place.
Mai-Wyss’ art is done in watercolors. The results are rich and colorful, nicely capturing a small family farm. Just as with the text, Miriam is often front and center in the illustrations.
A superb book about caring and compassion, this is a strong addition to any public library. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House Books for Young Readers.