Lesléa Newman, author
Lesléa Newman has written more than seventy books and anthologies, including the groundbreaking picture book Heather Has Two Mommies. She is also the author of October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard and Sparkle Boy.
Read more about Lesléa.
Susan Gal holds a BFA from Art Center College of Design and has illustrated several books for children, including Abracadabra, It's Spring! and Here Is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays.
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- Coming soon!
School Library Journal, starred review
PreS-Gr 1–Simple, lyrical text describes how a contemporary Jewish family celebrates the Passover Seder. Inside, the house is filled with light and laughter as a young boy fills the ceremonial cup of wine for the Prophet Elijah, dips parsley in salt water, breaks the middle matzo, hears the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, and enjoys the holiday meal. Meanwhile, a small stray kitten waits alone in the dark for the moon to rise. When the time comes for the boy to open the door for the Prophet Elijah, the kitten has scampered up the walk and is waiting to be invited inside. The text concludes: “And that’s how Elijah [the kitten] found a home.” The luminous detailed illustrations—done in ink, charcoal, and digital collage—use deep gold, black, and blue tones to beautifully depict the contrast between the loving, festive atmosphere inside the house and the dark, still night outside. Readers will delight in finding the adorable white kitten on each spread and will notice how the kitten’s actions outside mimic the boy’s actions inside. A large, intergenerational and racially diverse family is warmly depicted. An extensive author’s note is appended, providing background information about the history and customs of the Passover holiday along with a listing of some of the traditional rituals of the Passover Seder.
VERDICT: Anybody who has ever opened the door for Elijah during the Passover Seder will relish this charming, magical, and heartwarming story.
Passover nights are different, happily so for a boy and a kitten.
It’s a Seder night, and a boy and his large family welcome guests to the festive holiday celebration. There are many rituals in the evening, including filling a cup of wine for the prophet Elisha, but his favorite is opening the door to welcome Elijah in. Writing in contrasting couplets, Newman relates the many elements of the holiday as “inside” activities. There are also “outside” goings-on. A fluffy white cat in the yard does feline things that seem to mimic what the family and their guests are doing except in one respect. The family enjoys plenty of good food while the kitten “swishe[s] his skinny tail.” Finally it is time to hold open the door, and who should be standing there but that irresistibly appealing fluffy white kitten. Boy and kitten, to be named Elijah of course, embrace as the others look on in joy. Gal’s softly smudged illustrations, rendered in ink, charcoal, and digital collage, warmly reflect the text’s contrasts, with bright yellows illuminating the household and iridescent blues bathing the outdoor scenes. The family and friends are racially diverse, with both black- and white-presenting group members. The boy himself presents white; the men wear kippot.
While not the traditional holiday outcome, it should please celebrants and cat lovers all. (author’s note, list of Seder rituals) (Picture book. 4-7)
As night falls, a boy and his family gather together for a traditional Passover Seder. With wide eyes and an infectious smile, the boy shares all of his favorite activities and stories, illustrated in warm, candlelit scenes. Meanwhile, outside in the shadowy moonlight, something lurks. The night is full of contrasts—dark and light, joy and sadness—that build until the boy reaches his most cherished ritual of all: opening the door for Elijah the Prophet.
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Page count: 32
11 x 8 1/2