The Secret Seder

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Jacques and his parents are hiding in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, pretending to be Catholics. On the first night of Passover, Jacques and his father elude Nazi soldiers to gather with other Jews and celebrate the Seder in secret. For this book, Doreen Rappaport researched the lives of resistance fighters and Jews in hiding: brave men and women who managed to survive one of the darkest times in history with their faith intact. Emily Arnold McCully's intense and respectful paintings illuminate the ...
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Overview

Jacques and his parents are hiding in Nazi-occupied France during World War II, pretending to be Catholics. On the first night of Passover, Jacques and his father elude Nazi soldiers to gather with other Jews and celebrate the Seder in secret. For this book, Doreen Rappaport researched the lives of resistance fighters and Jews in hiding: brave men and women who managed to survive one of the darkest times in history with their faith intact. Emily Arnold McCully's intense and respectful paintings illuminate the perils of a turbulent time and the triumphs of a resilient people.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A boy comes to appreciate the true depth of his faith in this picture book about European Jews who took great risk to secretly practice their religion during the Holocaust. Young Jacques and his parents escaped Paris during Hitler's occupation and are now in hiding, posing as Catholics in a small French village. Jacques fears the "black-boot men" always on patrol in the streets and has become adept at acting "natural" and staying out of their way. But not even the threat of soldiers can stop Jacques from learning the Four Questions in time for Passover; he plans to surprise his father during the secret Seder they will attend. Under cover of night, several Jewish men gather in a mountaintop cabin to celebrate, pray and remember. An older man reads the Haggadah, keeping to tradition as much as possible with a bare minimum of food or supplies, and helps inspire the men to a hopeful mood. Using a confident storytelling style and realistic characterizations, Rappaport (Martin's Big Words) captures the electric energy of suspense and danger swirling around Jacques's family as well as the courage and abiding faith that bolster them and their fellow Jews in the shadow of atrocity. McCully's (Mirette on the High Wire) watercolors depict sun-dappled village streets and storefronts as well as the shadowy green mountainside with an equally palpable sense of place. The portraits of Jacques and the Jewish men-ranging from tense to anguished to ultimately somewhat peaceful-bring the tale (inspired by real events, as mentioned in the author's note) to life. Ages 5-9. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-Amid the plethora of Holocaust children's literature emerges yet another picture book that uses the themes of exodus and freedom associated with Passover to contrast the reality of Nazi-occupied Europe. The narrator is a French boy whose family lives openly as Catholics, but secretly observes their Jewish faith. Despite the fear that their true identity will be discovered, he and his father attend an all-male Seder held in an abandoned shack in a nearby forest. They arrive with a roasted egg for the meager Seder plate, which lacks many of the traditional ingredients. One man says, "We have no bitter herbs to dip in salted water," while another replies, "We do not need bitter herbs-.Our lives are bitter enough." The highlight of the evening is when the boy recites the four traditional questions, which he had secretly practiced with his mother. The men provide secondary answers to the customary ones: "I think tonight is different because tonight all over Europe, Jews are being murdered." Their sadness, fear, and misery are underscored by the idea that tonight they are free in their hearts and by their hope for a brighter future. Watercolors depicting gloomy, foreboding images of the village, forest, and shack counter the child's memories of happier meals at his grandmother's home. Rappaport interweaves themes and descriptive text to create a meaningful story in a distinctive setting. An excellent discussion starter.-Rita Soltan, Oakland University, Rochester, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786807772
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 1/26/2005
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

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