Part of the "First Facts" series for below-level readers, this introduction to the Jewish holiday of Passover does an adequate job of relating the basics of the Biblical story of Passover, and a somewhat better job of describing how Jews today typically observe the holiday. Doering's retelling of the Biblical events focuses on God's retribution against Egypt and the Pharaohnamely, the killing of the first-born of Egyptian families and the drowning of the Egyptian army in the waters of the Red Sea. This emphasis may lead young readers to view the holiday as rather more macabre than is necessary or appropriate. The enslavement of the Hebrews in Egypt is mentioned, but artwork draws attention to the drama of the plagues and the fate of the Egyptians. Preparations by modern Jews for Passover, and the conduct of the
sederthat is, the service and holiday mealare mostly described clearly. Photographs for this section of the book, however, feel dated. Toward the end, one page is devoted to an "Amazing Holiday Story," but it is a disappointment. The story told on that page, of a charitable Jewish group in Toronto, Canada, that donates food collected during Passover to needy people, is admirable. It is not amazing. A hands-on activity and a simply glossary add value to this very basic offering.
Children's Literature - Debbie Levy
Gr 1-3-This title provides extremely basic information in a simple text. While the facts are accurate, the lack of detail or context renders them almost meaningless. Jewish readers will gain little insight, and non-Jewish children will be neither enlightened nor intrigued. Full-color stock images are large and clearly reproduced on attractively designed pages. However, the image choices seem somewhat random: readers see a mixture of Western families, one unidentified photograph of a dark-skinned family with a colorful, basketlike seder plate, and several unidentified paintings in which depictions of the ancient Hebrews range from men in togas to a crowd in medieval garb and armor. This odd assortment does not advance a coherent image of Passover. An "Amazing Holiday Story" mentions an annual food drive in Toronto-nice, but hardly amazing. An afikomen-holder craft is less than inspired. Readers are instructed to visit FactHound.com for related Web sites, but doing so leads to an oddly mixed assortment of sites and books on Passover and Hanukkah. Readers will be better off with Cathy Goldberg Fishman's On Passover (S & S, 1997) for flavor, or Anita Ganeri's The Passover Story (Smart Apple Media, 2004) for facts.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.