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Book: Max Makes a Cake Author: Michelle Edwards
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Age Range: 3-8
Max Makes a Cake is a new picture book by Michelle Edwards and Charles Santoso. It's a gentle introduction to some of the customs surrounding Passover, but it's also a story about independence. Max Osher is probably about five years old. He lives with his parents and baby sister. His mother's birthday falls during Passover, and Max and his father are supposed to make her a special Passover-friendly cake (from a mix). However, Daddy gets caught up in the needs of Max's sister, Trudy. And Max is forced to take matters into his own hands. The cake he makes (and no, safety conscious people, he does not use the oven) is creative and fun.
I'm not a fan of nonfiction disguised as fiction. As in, a book designed to introduce kids to what Passover is, disguised as a story about cake. But that is NOT what this is. What makes Max Makes a Cake work is that the entire book focuses on Max. Passover is introduced, but only as it relates to Max. So we have:
"Max Osher was an expert at getting dressed. He could almost pie his shoes. And he knew the Four Questions for Passover in Hebrew and English. He sang them in both languages at the Passover Seder. All by himself. Without any help."
There's even a completely kid-friendly explanation of what Matzoh is, which Max relates to his sister. The bottom line is that Max is a real kid. He is SO impatient when his dad is delayed. And he is SO proud of himself when his attempt to make frosting works. Most of the action in the book centers around the cake.
I thought that this book might be over my three year old's head, but she adores it. In fact, she declared it her favorite book (though we haven't read it very many times). If I think about it, there's nothing much more kid-friendly than cake. To have a kid make his own cake, for his mother, is inherently cool. And Michelle Edwards understands the interests of preschoolers, I think. Like this:
"Trudy tipped over her sippy cup. She spit out her banana smush. Then she pooped."
Yeah, that's life with a baby in the baby in the house.
Charles Santoso's illustrations are a nice fit for the story. Max is bright-eyed, with expressive features. His glower as he waits impatiently for Daddy is completely true to life. The characters are shown large against the canvas, with minimal backgrounds, keeping the reader's attention on the people.
At the end of Max Makes a Cake readers will find the recipe for Max's cake, followed by a single page of factual information about Passover. Just enough to give interested readers a jumping off point.
Max Makes a Cake is an engaging book for young kids about taking matters into their own hands. And about cake. It also introduces the concept of eating matzoh for Passover. For Jewish kids, I think this will likely be validating to see. For kids who aren't Jewish, Max Makes a Cake opens a little window into other faiths, without being at all heavy-handed. Well done all around, I'd say. And well worth a look for home or library use.
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).
Tonight marks the first night of Passover, so I thought I’d share a bit about what the holiday celebrates and what it means to me. Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays of the year, and is probably the most observed Jewish holiday after Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (despite what people think about Hanukah!).
Passover commemorates the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, as told in the old testament (or, if you’re the kind of person who waits for the movie to come out, as told in The Ten Commandments). According to the story, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years, until God, with the help of Moses, led them out of Egypt and into freedom.
Whether or not you believe in God or the Old Testament, the Passover story resonates. For me, one of the most meaningful parts of it is the acknowledgement of how truly terrible and traumatic slavery is: terrible enough that, although Jews were slaves many thousands of years ago, we still recall the experience in great detail every year. We even eat bitter herbs during the seder, the traditional Passover meal, so that the bitter taste of slavery is fresh on our tongues.
Unfortunately, slavery is not ancient history; in fact, it’s alive and well in many parts of the world. Whether enslaved by law, by force, or by poverty, many human beings living on earth today are not free. Passover is a time to really meditate on what that means – and, perhaps, on our part in it. What have I done to support or abolish slavery? Am I buying from companies with good labor practices? Am I aware of what’s happening in my own community? Are there sustainable ways of dismantling slavery that I can support?
Although slavery is a heavy subject, I actually think it’s one that young people can really understand deeply, and Passover is a great time to explore it together. Over at Pinterest, we’ve rounded up some books for children about Passover and/or freedom. These books are great ways to start a discussion with young readers about slavery, both ancient and modern.
Another resource I’ll be thinking about a lot this year is a documentary I saw last week called Girl Rising, by the organization 10 x 10. The documentary focuses on the stories of ten girls from around the world and shows that for many young women, the passage from slavery to freedom is an education. Definitely worth watching, and suitable for children 12 and up. Taking kids to a screening near you would be a great way to celebrate the holiday.
If you have other slavery/freedom related resources for young people, feel free to leave them in the comments. And to all those who are celebrating tonight, I wish you all a very happy (and meaningful) Passover!
To all of our Buzz fans, I want to wish you a Happy Passover and Happy Easter! Wow...is spring really upon us? I sure do hope so. We've been in Gettysburg for the last month...or as I call it, Wettysburg. I know April showers bring May flowers...those need to be some pretty stupendous flowers! LOL!
Some good news to share is the WINNER of my Meg Cabot book giveaway. A copy of AVALON HIGH CORONATION goes to...
Congrats! Please e-mail me at marley_gibson AT yahoo DOT com with your name and mailing address.
Now...to this week's giveaway. (Isn't this fun?) I'm giving away a copy of my fellow St. Martin's Press author, C. C. Hunter's book BORN AT MIDNIGHT. The cover is reallllly dark and cool.
To enter the book giveaway, please leave a comment letting us know what you and yours are planning for the Passover/Easter holidays. Anything yummy to eat? Family traditions?
Hugs, Marley = )
The next installment of the popular Ghost Huntress series Coming May 2nd! Everything's not as it seems... GHOST HUNTRESS: THE DISCOVERY
For a few reasons, I am starting a new blog on WordPress. Please book mark me at http://redcrested.wordpress.com/ and come visit me over there. One of the main reasons is that I will be able to guest blog and have guests on my blog easily via triberr.com. Another reason has to do with links and other tech items. I will keep this blog for awhile and may try doing two blogs, as I know that many writers do.
Happy Easter, Happy Passover! Passover means I can buy Coke at the grocery store without corn products, it comes in bottles with a yellow cap, for a week. One week out of a year. I'm off to Albertson's. Then, on Monday it means 1/2 price chocolate at Walgreen's. That's what I learned from my friend Ginny several years ago. She always bought chocolate after Easter and after Halloween. I like those little individually wrapped Dove dark chocolates, and never buy them ... except after Easter and Halloween. I keep them in the freezer and have one after dinner. Now to write!
I thought it would be seasonally appropriate to share with you the starred review I wrote about The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah for School Library Journal. This is a delightful new Passover story, that I used successfully with several Kindergarten and first grade classes in our religious school recently. For more info about author Leslie Kimmelman and her books, see www.lesliekimmelman.net.
KIMMELMAN, Leslie. The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah. illus. by Paul Meisel. unpaged. glossary. CIP. Holiday House. Mar. 2010. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-0-8234-1952-4. LC 2008048488.
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
Books with a “This is the House that Jack Built” format often use the first line as the title of the book. However, the first line is just a starting point from which to build the actual story. “This is the house that Jack built,” is not about the house at all but about the community around the house. Similarly, The Matzah that Papa Brought Home, by Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Ned Bittinger, is not about matzah at all but about the Passover seder.
With tight and lyrical rhyme, Manushkin captures the high points of the Passover Seder from a child’s point of view. The narrator is clearly the child of the “Papa” who brought home the matzah. The child voice is unmistakable in the fourth spread into the story, when we read, “This is me standing tall and proud/ to ask the Four Questions nice and loud/ during the Passover Seder we shared/ to eat the feast that Mama made/ with the matzah that Papa brought home.” This passage reveals that the narrator is the youngest child in this family and the illustration portrays a sweet six-year-old girl who is glowing with the responsibilities of her question-asking task. My inner-child especially connected with the line, “This is “Dayenu,” a very long song/ that we sang with our stomachs growling along…”
Bittinger’s paintings are rendered in oil paint on linen using deep shadow and glowing light to intensify emotion and lead the eye of the viewer around the painting. From the feast, to clearing the table, to the child trying to sneak a bit of matzah, the images capture the chaos and order of a Passover Seder. My favorite image is of the narrator sitting on Papa’s lap, each of them taking pinkies full of wine to diminish their pleasure while reciting the plagues. The figures are bathed in light, the background a deep brown/black but in the middle values, frogs and locusts hop, and rains fall on enslaved Hebrew workers. This dreamy sequence allows two stories, Manushkin’s and the Exodus, to be told at the same time. www.franmanushkin.com/thematzahpapabroughthome.htm
The only issue I had with the book was the line, “This is the feast that Mama made with the matzah that Papa brought home.” I stumbled over this line when reading it aloud to my boys and we all looked at each other. My son said, “The roasted chicken [in the illustration] didn’t come from the matzah.” I agreed. Obviously, the feast was made to go along with the matzah but the syntax suggested that the whole feast was made from the matzah.
Scholastic published the book in 1995, and it is well worth the interlibrary loan. If you are looking to buy the book, it was reprinted in paperback in 2001 and should be available for order through your nearest Indie-bookshop. Happy Passover to all!
As I was bopping around the house the other day I noticed I had quite a few little bunnies here and there besides the dust variety. I remembered KJ's challenge of seeing how many hearts we all had around the house, so here's my Easter/Spring challenge.
Take pics of bunnies around your place, real or otherwise but ones that are always in plain view. Here are a few of mine!
The top picture are some love buns in the kitchen over the glass cabinets.
Here's a closer (yet blurry) view.
These buns are on my baker's rack in the kitchen. The white one I bought at a yard sale in California for five bucks. It's some kind of Italian porcelain. I love her!
The two little stone bunnies were rescued here and there. I always keep these two little girls together.
Here's my pretty Italian girl close-up. She's definately centerfold material!
And the little girls in front of a tureen. They're quite shy! The little black one is really old and worn so she's hard to see clearly.
I was going to post yesterday, but was floored by the number of options available given the day. I mean, you had April Fool's Day, the first day of Poetry Month, Passover, Easter weekend, my Booklights day, and my Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie viewing. Too much!
So let's knock this out here. Fuse#8 got me with her April Fool's Day joke, but I'll just focus on the laughing and direct you the hysterical book I've been reading lately. It's not for kids, and may be a little blue for many adults, but boy is it funny. If you like comedy - and who doesn't - check out I Killed: True Stories from the Road from America's Top Comics.
I was dying to embed the Steven Colbert video where he shows off the new Passover Plague puppets. Watch it at the thirteen minute mark (the second segment). We've been laughing about it all week. "I don't know, be alive."
For Easter, I was going to write about back-up bunny books that you could pick-up if you missed your holiday grab at the library. Then I realized that there were over three hundred picture books featuring rabbits at my local library, so I'm going to point to Beatrix Potter and leave it at that. I reserved my Booklights post for a shout-out to poetry month.
Also I saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid with my thirteen and ten year old daughters, and we all loved it. Laughed a lot and throughly enjoyed myself. The casting is excellent, and the film captures the feel of the book while expanding on it and making it feel stunningly realistic. The kids look like real kids. What kind of way is that to make a movie? (Pssst! Hollywood? An excellent way.)
I'm offline for a few days to enjoy the pleasant holiday weekend. Hope you have the sunshine that we have here. It's beginning to feel like... spring.
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.
Author Lesley Simpson offered to interview herself, and I couldn't pass that up! She talks about Yuvi's Candy Tree (Kar-Ben, 2011), a picture book on Ethiopian Jews fleeing to Israel based on the true story of Yuvi Tashome. With its strong Exodus themes, it makes a great tie-in to Passover; it's also a universal immigration story and a good illustration of the diversity of the Jewish family.
Every year at Pesach time, We eat the matzah, we drink the wine. We ask four questions one by one, But before the seder’s done…
The moment Afikomen Mambo arrived, my kids fought over it. One look at the bright, happy cover and they knew there was a fun beat inside.
While Christian children have the Easter egg hunt, at Passover our children search for the afikomen, a piece of matzah traditionally broken in half at the beginning of the seder and then hidden for the children to find when the seder is over. The child who finds the afikomen is awarded a prize, and what could be a better prize than Afikomen Mambo?
Now you can hide it in a table, Hide it in a box, Underneath the stairway, Or inside the kitchen clock. You can put it in your pocket, Put it under the TV, But you can’t hide the afikomen from me…
The book by Rabbi Joe Black sports a catchy rhyme and even catchier CD with the mambo song–you can play the music for the kids while they peek under pillows and behind bookcases. The whimsical watercolor illustrations by Linda Prater are bright and cheerful (except for when the characters make faces at the bitter herbs!).
This is a must-have book for Jewish families with young children. You can begin a Passover tradition with the reading of the book and singing of the Afikomen Mambo song. Kudos to Kar-Ben Publishing for producing delightfully fun books for Jewish holidays.
Hot from the oven I jumped and ran, So clever and quick, I’m the Matzah Man!
You guessed it–it’s a take-off on the Gingerbread Man with a whole new rhyme scheme and cast of characters. There’s Grandma Tillie and her tender brisket, Auntie Bertha shopping in high heels, Grandpa Solly chopping onions, Miss Axelrod stirring her soup, and you’ll never guess who swaps roles with the tricky fox, finally outsmarting the Matzah Man.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to mambo while I make matzah ball soup.
Multicultural adoptions have become so prevalent that an entire genre has emerged, for kids and parents alike. “One of the most frequent requests we have,” says Nicole Harvey of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, “is by adoptive parents of Asian kids looking for ways to orient their children to their birth culture.” She likes especially the complex and popular Cooper’s Lesson by Sun Ying Shin.
On our own PaperTigers, the genre is explored in a review of Three Names of Me and an interview with Cynthia Kadohata, Newbery award winner and an adoptive parent herself. Franki at A Year of Reading, also an adoptive parent, reviews Caroline Marsden’s When Heaven Fell. Scroll down for her interview with Rose Kent, author of Kimchi and Calamari, additionally reviewed and interviewed at PaperTigers. Cynthia Letich Smith’s blog Cynsations has a great list of books on multicultural adoption.
You don’t have to be an adoptee or adoptive parent to appreciate these books, of course. As our world becomes smaller and families more diverse, we all need inspiration and information from this vital field of children’s literature.
As the genre of books on multicultural adoption grows in popularity, lists of such books, with sub-genres, are also proliferating. The Comeunity site offers book lists for kids and adults, along with other resources for adopting families. The AdoptShoppe site offers books specifically for kids from China, Korea, and Russia. Adopt Korea has a list for Korean adoptees. Adopt Vietnam has lists for fiction and non-fiction. Here’s another resource for kids’ multicultural adoption books and one of multiracial adoption books from PACT. Adoption counselor and author Betty J. Lifton writes on the subject, for children and for adults.
In honor of Passover we have invited Irvin Unger, founder and CEO of antiquarian booksellers Historicana and publisher of the new edition of the Szyk Haggadah (which you will learn all about below), to tell us why this Haggadah is different from all the others.
Spring means renewal and, for Jews, around the world, it means Passover—the story of freedom. Specifically it recounts the Jews’ escape from the tyranny of the Pharaohs, but Passover speaks symbolically to the ongoing human need to control one’s own life. Jews use a book called the Haggadah to recount this story at a Passover dinner gathering—or Seder. There have been more than 3,000 Haggadahs created over the last millennium, reflecting the wide variety of countries and cultures that are home to the Jewish Diaspora.
As a former pulpit Rabbi who became a rare book dealer, I became aware of the art of Arthur Szyk (1894 -1951) nearly 20 years ago. Since then, I have been fascinated with this talented artist who devoted his life and his art to fighting injustice—first for the Jews of Europe and then for peoples all over the world. I first came to know Arthur Szyk’s work through his Haggadah. The original 48 water color and gouache images were done in his unique style of medieval illumination with deep colors and great detail and intensity.
Szyk was a Polish-Jewish artist, trained in Paris, who devoted a decade to creating his own Passover Haggadah during the time that Hitler rose to power. It wasn’t possible to have the books printed in Germany, but Szyk was able to secure a London-based printer and a noted Jewish-English scholar, Cecil Roth, to write a commentary on the book. Szyk settled in London in 1937, where he supervised the printing of the Haggadah.
Once the printing was complete, the Szyk’s family immigrated to Canada and then to New York, where Szyk became the most well known anti-Fascist political cartoonist in America, and perhaps the world. Having lived through the Holocaust, freedom was not merely an academic theory for Szyk—freedom was real, and he devoted his life’s work to supporting it. He said of his immense skills, “Art is not my aim, it is my means.”
I have spent the past two years securing the finest book artisans and materials available in the world to create and publish a new edition of The Szyk Haggadah. For the first time since its original printing in 1940, a new edition has been created using digital photography of the original artwork and digital printing to ensure that there are no intermediaries between the art and the printed page. This new technology has produced results that are stunning—colors are deep and true, edges are crisp and images leap off the page.
To do justice to the digital printing, I secured a world-renowned book binder to hand bind and edge the bindings with gilt, used Nigerian goat skins for the bindings, and had the gift box custom made and covered in Japanese rayon cloth. I am also working with a director to create a full length of documentary of the making of the Haggadah.
During this time, I have also worked with Jewish scholars to create a companion volume to The Haggadah containing essays that shed new light and nuance on the art and life of Arthur Szyk. It has been an honor and a labor of love to create this limited edition of The Szyk Haggadah, which will be delivered to the first subscribers in time for this year’s Passover celebration.
Please visit here for more information on Arthur Szyk and the talented group of book and print artisans who are creating this new version of a 1940 masterpiece.
What's new in Jewish picture books? Follow me around the 2008 Book Expo America conference to listen in on publishers and authors talking about their new and forthcoming titles! I gathered so much audio that I'll be posting it over four episodes. Part 2 will be books for children and teens, Part 3 will be adult books, and Part 4 will be books (for all ages) relating to the Holocaust.
Part 1, Jewish Picture Books:
Tricycle Press The Yankee at the Seder by Elka Weber Marshall Cavendish Cakes and Miracles by Barbara Diamond Goldin The Hanukkah Mice by Steven Kroll The Rabbi and the 29 Witches by Marilyn Hirsh
Kar-Ben Publishing Jodie's Hanukkah Dig by Anna Levine Harvest of Light by Allison Ofanansky Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride by Deborah Bodin Cohen Sammy Spider's First Day at School by Sylvia Rouss Sarah Laughs, Benjamin and the Silver Goblet, Miriam in the Desert by Jacqueline Jules Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Built By Angels by Mark Podwal
Yankee at the Seder by Elka Weber, illustrated by Adam Gustavson, is a picture book about a Yankee Jewish soldier who spends Passover with a Confederate Jewish family. It is historian Elka Weber's first book for children, and it's based on a kernel of true Civil War history.
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I’m taking a blogging break in order to celebrate the Holiday of Passover. Therefore, please accept my best wishes for a happy holiday if you’re celebrating one in the next week:
Chag Sameach! Happy Pesach!
Posted in holiday, Passover Tagged: Easter
Today is a very holy day in both the Christian and Jewish faiths.
Christians celebrate Jesus' Last Supper--the meal he shared with his followers on the night before he died. The feast Jesus and his friends were celebrating was Passover.
Passover is a special time when the Jewish people remember how God helped them leave the slavery of Egypt. God convinced Pharaoh to release all the Jewish people after a terrible tenth plaque killed the first born sons of all the Egyptians. The Jewish first born were spared because God had instructed the Jews to mark their homes in a special way. The Angel of Death "passed over" all their houses and their first born were spared. The Jewish people share a special Passover meal each year to remember God's love for them.
During the Passover meal at The Last Supper, Jesus told his followers he would become their bread--broken and shared for them. In THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE by Sally Lloyd-Jones; illustrated by Jago and published by Zonderkiz, the author retells this and many other Bible stories in beautiful poetic words. The Bible stories come alive with Jago's pastel portraits and scenes. What a wonderful way to celebrate this holy day--reading the Bible story.
...and just because they got mentioned so often by so many people, The PJ Library
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I am pleased to announce that content from The Book of Life has been included in the new Jewish Book Search tool created by the Jewish Publication Society!
Here's their description of the tool: "JPS has put together a list of the highest quality websites with Jewish Book content. This search engine queries those sites and those alone. This will allow you to be sure that your search will only be related to Jewish Books. No more sifting through tons of content for what you are looking for. Search for any and all Jewish Books, articles about Jewish Books, blogs about Jewish Books, and anything about the Jewish Book world. Search by title, author, keyword, or area of interest!"
Go ahead and try it out! If you'd like to embed the tool on your own site, visit JPS.