Author: Kusel, Susan
In Washington, D.C., during the Great Depression, Muriel and her family have no money to prepare the seder meal until a mysterious stranger performs a Passover miracle. Includes notes on the Passover holiday, the Great Depression, and the history of the D.C. Jewish community.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (02/01/21)
School Library Journal (+) (00/12/20)
Booklist (+) (12/01/20)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 12/01/2020 Gr 2–4—Inspired by the I.L. Peretz story behind Uri Shulevitz's The Magician, this book chronicles a poor family living through the Great Depression on the night of Passover. April 10, 1933, was a Passover like no other; in the depths of the Great Depression, many families could not afford to hold a true seder. Because her family's table is empty, a young Jewish girl named Muriel spends the day admiring the blooming cherry blossoms along the National Mall in Washington, DC. A chance encounter with a mysterious stranger begins a series of events that lead to a full Passover dinner shared by the entire neighborhood. Only Muriel notices the absence of the stranger—and Elijah's empty wine glass—at the end of the evening. Filled with references to the holiday and accompanying traditions, this is a superb addition to modern celebrations. People of various races appear in the background even as the story focuses on a Jewish neighborhood. Abundant details—taking viewers from shtetl to the Capitol, for example—fill every page, enhancing the story's emotions through color and texture. The length of the text makes this story well suited for older children. A short notes section at the end of the book explains more about the holiday and gives readers a glimpse behind the author's and illustrator's choices. VERDICT Kusel's charming debut is a necessary volume for every holiday collection.—Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver P.L. - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 12/01/2020 *Starred Review* In the spring of 1933, young Muriel's Washington, DC, family is unable to properly celebrate Passover because her father is unemployed and food is scarce. While walking, she spies a man in rags juggling on the Lincoln Memorial steps. Delighted, she gifts him with her last penny, and he urges her to hurry home to her seder. That evening, the stranger knocks at their door; they invite him in and are shocked to discover a magnificent feast to share with him and their hungry neighbors. Kusel's adaptation of I. L. Peretz's The Magician highlights the holiday custom of providing a cup of wine for the prophet Elijah (here, the stranger). Told simply, but with great feeling, this story also spotlights DC itself: the Washington and Lincoln Monuments, the White House, and the Tidal Basin with its cherry trees in peak bloom. Rubin's digitally enhanced graphite illustrations are rendered in the style of Chagall in terms of color (blues and greens, accented in yellow), lighting, windows, and even a few chickens. The use of crosshatching adds texture to the illustrations, and the bright pink cherry blossoms remind readers that better days will return. Among the many Passover titles, this one stands out, full of hope and heart and set in a historical context that will resonate today. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.