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Sunday-Thursday 10:00 AM - 12:30 PM

 

Book Reviews

April 2024/Passover

Afikomen

 

Review by Sean Boyle, published in Hakol

Award-winning author Tziporah Cohen’s latest picture book, “Afikomen,” illustrated by Yaara Eshet, is a ‘wordless’ picture book split between a modern-day family’s seder and biblical Egypt. 

The story begins with a family sitting down at the Seder table and a piece of matzah is placed in the afikomen bag which the family dog quickly snatches and hides under the table cloth. The three children follow the dog and find themselves transported to ancient Egypt along the river Nile. They watch Moses' mother and sister Miriam place him a reed basket and set him afloat in the Nile.

As they follow along from the opposite river bank, Miriam recruits the children to help Moses as the basket faces several challenges before finally reaching Pharaoh's daughter safely. Afterwards the children say goodbye and return to the family Seder. Where they fall asleep and their parents wonder how sand got in the afikomen bag.

A definition of afikomen is included at the front of the book, and an Author’s Note at the end describes Passover and the story of Moses being found by the Pharaoh’s daughter. There are also explanations of several different afikomen traditions. Although it is a wordless book, there are Hebrew and Aramaic words to give clues to where the family is in the Seder.

Cohen originally developed the idea for the book in her MFA course where they were assigned to create a wordless picture book, but it wasn’t until Eshet did the illustrations ten years later that she fully conceptualized the book. Eshet says that normally the words are the bridge between the author and the illustrator, but with a wordless picture book the illustrator has only the author’s script to pull from. Eshet chose graphic novel panels as the layout for the illustrations, in homage to the way visual storytelling was portrayed in ancient Egypt as seen in tombs and on papyri.

Cohen is a great advocate for wordless picture books in that they are universally accessible and allows the child to be an active participant in the storytelling. She relates it to how we are asked at the Seder to retell the Passover story out loud each year.  

Afikomen received a 2024 Sydney Taylor Honor award, a Silver Medal, in the Picture Book category.

Highly recommended for ages 3-120, designed for 3-6 year olds but can be enjoyed by adults and will be informative for Jews and non-Jews as well.

Sean Boyle is Congregation Keneseth Israel’s librarian and is also serving as Vice President, President-elect of the Association of Jewish Libraries.

Afikomen (Cohen, Tziporah, & Eshet, Yaara, Toronto, ON, Groundwood Books, 2023, 32p.)



Archived Reviews

Interested in some more great book recommendations and reviews by Sean Boyle?  Visit Hakol Online to enjoy some past issues of the newspaper.  

Upcoming and Past Library Events

12/12/2010: She Persisted: Clara Lemlich by Deborah Heiligman

Children, grades K - 4, enjoyed a presentation with their very own, autographed copies of She Persisted: Clara Lemlich, authored by Deborah Heiligman (sister of Linda Miller). The Miller family graciously donated the copies. After reading the book, librarian Sean Boyle will collect questions from the kids and forward them to the author for a response.

 

10/31/2021: What can your library do for you: The Library as a Community Resource. Click here to learn more.  Presented by The KI Adult Education Committee.

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Mon, June 24 2024 18 Sivan 5784