My mother saved two books from her childhood: The Passover Story and The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. My copy of The Rubaiyat is in NY so I can’t revisit that now, but my love of kidlit (and my love of my mother, obm), prompted me to take another look at The Passover Story by Morrison David Bial, illustrated by Stephen Kraft. The fact that she chose to save this book speaks to the meaning that it held for her. It turns out it was published by Behrman House in 1952. Behrman House (Apples & Honey) was also the publisher of my debut, a Passover story, Alone Together on Dan Street in 2022.
Comparing the two books, both the text and illustrations, is an interesting glimpse at how kidlit and Jewish kidlit has evolved in the last 70 years. Beyond the comparison of what is different in the two books, there also needs to be a recognition of what remains unchanged: our tradition of retelling the Passover story for the next generation.
The Passover Story, old-fashioned and yet still relevant, has at least in my home stood the test of time.
(Yes, it’s strange to be thinking so much about Passover, when it’s still Hanukkah, but I’m also working on arranging school visits for March and events for the Hong Kong Literary Festival which is also in March. It makes me feel like one of those grocery stores that put out matzah in their ‘Hanukkah’ displays. Hanukkah Sameach! Happy Hanukkah!)
The Seder Scenes