The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah

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by Paul Meisel, Leslie Kimmelman
     
 

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Little Red Hen must make matzah for Passover. She asks

her friends for help planting grains. “Sorry, bub,” neighs

Horse. “Think again,” barks Dog. Of course, the Little Red Hen does it all herself. A classic tale gets a Jewish twist in this hilarious story.

Overview

Little Red Hen must make matzah for Passover. She asks

her friends for help planting grains. “Sorry, bub,” neighs

Horse. “Think again,” barks Dog. Of course, the Little Red Hen does it all herself. A classic tale gets a Jewish twist in this hilarious story.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
When this Jewish Little Red Hen decides it is time to get ready for Passover, her first thought is to make the traditional matzah. Gathering a small pile of grain she kept safe from water and wind, she approaches her friends and receives the typical rude, if somewhat altered, responses. “ ‘Not I’, said Sheep. ‘Sorry, bub,’ said Horse. ‘Think again,’ said Dog.” Little Red Hen resigns herself to going it alone, but she is a classic kvetcher: “I should live so long, to see this bunch of lazy no-goodniks put in an honest day’s work.” Meisel’s accompanying cartoons, done in ink, watercolor and pastels, add exactly the right touch of humor to this holiday version of a classic folktale, which is filled with enough Yiddishisms to make every Bubbe act out the reading in old-world style. In accordance with the Passover tradition to welcome all who are hungry to the seder table, the three non-helpers are invited in—and they redeem themselves with some dishwashing, while the Little Red Hen enjoys a relaxing moment. (author’s note, recipe, glossary) (Picture book. 3-6)

The Little Red Hen has gone through various versions and permutations, but surely this is the first time she has a Yiddish accent. Realizing it’s almost Passover, the Little Red Hen says, “Oy gevalt!” She needs matzah for her seder dinner, and that means growing wheat. Horse, Sheep, and Dog are not interested in helping. Harvesting? Again, nope. Milling? “We’re resting.” By now, the Little Red Hen realizes she’s dealing with a bunch of no-goodniks. She bakes the matzah (“according to Jewish law . . . in just eighteen minutes”) and then sets her seder table. Guess who arrives? “What chutzpah!” But then the Little Red Hen remembers the Haggadah’s words: “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Children familiar with Passover will get a kick out of this, and the ink-and-watercolor art amusingly captures both the Little Red Hen’s aggravation and the animals’ turnaround. Those really in the know might wonder about a sheep at a holiday table where lamb’s blood plays a major role, but, hey, at least none of the guests are pigs.

"Such a clever idea! Watch a familiar tale become exponentially funnier and, yes, more meaningful."

"The droll ink, watercolor, and pastel cartoon illustrations have a friendly charm that makes a nice contrast with the story's wry humor."

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
In this variation on a traditional story, the Little Red Hen it turns out is Jewish and not only that she uses Yiddish words. The story follows the familiar pattern with the Little red Hen getting no help with the planting, harvesting, milling or baking of the matzah (this is a Passover story). When she has set the table with the traditional foods for the Seder, there is a knock at the door and who should be there, but those lazy friends who did not help her at all. She mulls over whether to let them enjoy the benefits of her labor and remembering the words in the Passover Haggadah "Let all who are hungry come and eat." She relents and invites them in. They all enjoy the dinner and in a final twist, they end up doing the dishes while the Little Red Hen takes a well earned rest. The drawings are amusing and for those who do or do not celebrate the holiday there is plenty to learn. The message of forgiveness and also the important components of the Passover holiday are explained along with the preparation of matzahs. A recipe is included and bakers are challenged to see if they can complete it all in eighteen minutes which is the amount of time it should take according to Jewish law. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—This Yiddish-inflected retelling of "The Little Ren Hen" features a balabusta (good homemaker) who kvetches about her lazy no-goodnik friends who will not help her make matzah from wheat. When they show up at the Passover Seder, the hen scolds, "What chutzpah!" Ultimately, however, they repent and the hen forgives them because she is a mensch. All ends happily as they make up for their earlier bad behavior by doing the dishes. The droll ink, watercolor, and pastel cartoon illustrations have a friendly charm that makes a nice contrast with the story's wry humor. The Yiddish vocabulary and speech patterns will have Jewish adults rolling in the aisles, and children will enjoy the merging of familiar Passover and folktale elements. It's entertaining to those in the know, but readers unfamiliar with the holiday may be mystified by the humor, and they will gain little understanding of the traditions of Passover. An endnote on the holiday's history, a matzah recipe, and a glossary round out the package, but the book should be used in combination with more traditional tales or with audiences who already observe Passover. It's a must for Judaica collections and a solid choice for large general collections.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Publishers Weekly
Such a clever idea! Make the Little Red Hen into a balabusta (that's Yiddish for a singularly sensational homemaker/matriarch/keeper of the spiritual flame), set the story during the Jewish holiday that turns every home into a sacred space, and watch a familiar tale become exponentially funnier and, yes, more meaningful. By the time Kimmelman (Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt!), a terrifically conversational storyteller, and Meisel (Barnyard Slam), a slyly astute cartoonist (Sheep looks truly sheepish), are done, readers of all faiths will know a lot more than some emotionally evocative Yiddish words. They'll also understand why Passover whips Jewish mothers into a frenzy (“The Little Red Hen had cleaned her house, top to bottom. There wasn't a crumb of bread to be found anywhere”), and why, even after all her schlepping and kvetching and unassisted matzo making, LRH still cannot turn away her “no-goodnik” friends when they have the chutzpah to show up at her seder. Oh, and one more thing: those who clean up after the seder while their hostess puts her feet up can find redemption for even the most egregious shortcomings. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
When this Jewish Little Red Hen decides it is time to get ready for Passover, her first thought is to make the traditional matzah. Gathering a small pile of grain she kept safe from water and wind, she approaches her friends and receives the typical rude, if somewhat altered, responses. " ‘Not I', said Sheep. ‘Sorry, bub,' said Horse. ‘Think again,' said Dog." Little Red Hen resigns herself to going it alone, but she is a classic kvetcher: "I should live so long, to see this bunch of lazy no-goodniks put in an honest day's work." Meisel's accompanying cartoons, done in ink, watercolor and pastels, add exactly the right touch of humor to this holiday version of a classic folktale, which is filled with enough Yiddishisms to make every Bubbe act out the reading in old-world style. In accordance with the Passover tradition to welcome all who are hungry to the seder table, the three non-helpers are invited in-and they redeem themselves with some dishwashing, while the Little Red Hen enjoys a relaxing moment. (author's note, recipe, glossary) (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780823419524
Publisher:
Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
02/08/2010
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
1,333,040
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
AD530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Paul Meisel illustrated Go to Sleep, Groundhog! by Judy Cox, Barnyard Slam by Dian Curtis Regan, and The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman. He lives in Connecticut.

Leslie Kimmelman is a former children's book and magazine editor, as well as the author of more than a dozen children's books, including The Runaway Latke and Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Nights. Publishers Weekly has prasied her writing as "energetic" and "highly accessible to very young children." Her current dog, Jodie is one of a long line of family dogs that have loved cool lakes, long, lazy summers, and--especially--ice cream. She lives in the New Yok City area.

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The Little Red Hen and The Passover Matzah 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
cowgirlRS More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. The story is based on the traditional story, The Little Red Hen. However, it uses the making of the holiday matzah to teach children the customs of the Passover seder. The animals in the story refuse to help make the matzah and yet at the end, the little red hen invites them to the seder, because this is what is written in the haggadah, the book read at the holiday meal. The illustrations are very attractive and any child would enjoy this amazing book. This is the best Passover story I've ever read to my students. I hope they write more like this one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this version of the Little Red Hen because she shares with her friends even though they didn't help her. Sometimes it's nice to be nice to people even though/especially if they haven't been nice to you.