The Passover Lamb

The Passover Lamb

by Linda Elovitz Marshall, Tatjana Mai-Wyss

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When a sheep on her family's farm starts acting strangely, Miriam is worried. Spring lambing season is over, so what could be wrong with Snowball? Then—surprise—the sheep gives birth to triplets! When she realizes that the mother has enough milk for only two of her newborns, Miriam knows that the third baby will have to be bottle-fed every four hours.


When a sheep on her family's farm starts acting strangely, Miriam is worried. Spring lambing season is over, so what could be wrong with Snowball? Then—surprise—the sheep gives birth to triplets! When she realizes that the mother has enough milk for only two of her newborns, Miriam knows that the third baby will have to be bottle-fed every four hours. But it's almost Passover, and the family is about to leave for her grandparents' seder. And it's Miriam's turn this year to ask the Four Questions, which she's been practicing for weeks! When Miriam's father decides that they must stay home to care for the lamb, it's up to Miriam to think of a clever and—hilariously fitting—way to rescue both the baby lamb and her family's holiday.  

Author Linda Marshall based this out-of-the-ordinary Passover tale on a true event that took place on her own farm, weaving in details about sheep farming and infusing it with the warmth shared by a loving family. Readers will root for Miriam and her Passover lamb!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this delightful and colorful Passover story based on an event that took place on author Marshall’s farm, a girl named Miriam notices that one of her family’s sheep, Snowball, is acting strangely as she tends to the flock shortly before the holiday begins. Concerned for Snowball’s health as well as for her own chances of attending her grandparents’ seder if the sheep is sick, Miriam runs to her parents for help. When Miriam’s family realizes that Snowball is about to give birth, and indeed soon does, Miriam is torn. Although she desperately wants to sing the mah nishtana (four questions) at her grandparents’ seder, she can’t imagine deserting the needy newborn. Using her knowledge of the Passover story, Miriam devises a creative plan to keep everyone, including the baby sheep, happy. Charming watercolor illustrations and friendly humor enliven this entertaining holiday tale. Ages 6–9. Illustrator’s agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Beautiful stories are often based in truth, and this children's tale of a lamb born on a family farm at Passover is unique and winning in its charm. Miriam, the youngest child in her family, has been preparing to recite the Four Questions at her grandparents' Seder for weeks. However, on the very day of the Seder meal, one the sheep on her family's farm drops three lambs. The littlest, the runt, has no place at his mother's teats and must be hand fed special formula. Miriam is torn. She desperately wants to go to Seder and take part in the ritual, but the lamb needs to be cared for. While recalling the story of the Biblical Moses, she remembers that he was set afloat by his mother and Miriam's namesake in a basket, only to be found by Pharaoh's daughter. Taking her cue from the Biblical tale, Miriam places the runt lamb in a basket and carries him to dinner at her grandparents' house, thereby getting her chance to chant the Four Questions while caring for her little four-legged charge. What's lovely about this book, in addition to delightful water colors of a family farm, is the fact that this is a story that includes information about Passover, but does not exclusively focus on the holiday which opens it up to greater use in story times for a wider range of children than just synagogue based classes. This is really a story about a clever little girl who cares for a living creature while also fulfilling her desire to observe her religion. An enchanting book from the first page to the last. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Doing farm chores on the morning of Passover, Miriam discovers that one of the sheep has had three babies. Snowball rejects the runt, and the child takes responsibility for bottle-feeding it every few hours. How can she take care of a lamb, though, and still attend the Seder at Grandma's? By putting him in a basket, naming him Moses, and taking him along, of course. This unusual Passover story is based on Marshall's own family history, as explained in an author's note. Basic information about Passover is included within the story and in the note. The emphasis is on the lamb's plight rather than on the holiday, and readers will be charmed by the gentle depiction of farm life, the baby animal, and the child's resourcefulness. Those who bring Passover knowledge to their reading will be amused that the siblings' names are Miriam and Aaron (the names of Moses's siblings in the Bible). Cheerful watercolors add to the story's sweetness.—Heidi Estrin, Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
The birth of a newborn lamb adds extra challenge and meaning to a traditional Passover Seder for one little girl. Miriam is eager to attend the Seder at her grandparents' home; she's ready to recite, for the first time, the four important questions that introduce the recounting of the Exodus story. But as the family packs the car, Snowball gives birth to three lambs, one of which cannot nurse and must be bottle-fed. Rather than stay home and miss her chance to engage in the ceremony, Miriam remembers the story of how the baby Moses was rescued and cared for from a basket and similarly creates a traveling bed for her newborn lamb. At her grandparents' home, the lamb is welcomed and affectionately named Moses. Farm images created in graphite and watercolors extend the storyline, depicting a contemporary rural setting; the highlight is a satisfying, domestic scene of a Jewish family gathered for the Seder. While the basic plot complication unfolds and is resolved easily, undercurrent themes of responsibility, kindness and attentiveness emerge from the springtime holiday backdrop. A satisfying addition to the Passover shelf. (author's note) (Picture book. 3-5)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

LINDA ELOVITZ MARSHALL grew up near Boston, graduated from Barnard College, and raised four children and a flock of sheep on a farm in the Hudson River Valley. The author of several picture books, Linda still lives on the farm with her husband, Bob.

TATJANA MAI-WYSS always wished she could draw the pictures in the books she read as a child, so she became an artist. She has illustrated many books, most recently A Song for My Sister by Lesley Simpson. Originally from Switzerland, she now lives in sunny South Carolina.

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