Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail
Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail

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Annotation: In this warm, lyrical story about Passover, family, and friendship, a young boy gets a surprise when the door is symbolically opened to the prophet Elijah during the family Passover Seder, and a stray cat appears.
Catalog Number: #293863
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2020
Illustrator: Gal, Susan,
Pages: 32
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-580-89882-3 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-9847-X
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-580-89882-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-9847-1
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2017060500
Dimensions: 22 x 28 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
On Passover, inside his warm and cozy house, a boy waits expectantly for his family's Seder. Outdoors, a kitten waits alone for the moon to appear. Inside, the Seder begins. The boy fills the Cup of Elijah, a ritual that welcomes the prophet into the home. The child listens to the Passover story and enjoys a traditional meal, while outside the cat listens to whispering leaves and "ate nothing at all." Readers recognize or learn about nearly all the steps of the Seder while getting to know the roaming feline, whose roughly parallel activities are shown, split-screen-style, on every spread. The cat's rambles lead to the boy's doorstep at the same moment he opens the door for the prophet: "And that's how Elijah found a home." Gal's warmhearted illustrations, in ink, charcoal, and digital collage, show a diverse, loving extended Jewish family. The art is suffused with light, including golden hues, warm browns, and midnight blues along with textured brushstrokes, subtle patterns, dark outlines, and the whitish-gray cat. Passover-themed details in the text ("Tonight would be different from all other nights," think boy and cat--a nod to the Four Questions), the illustrations (gefilte fish advertised in a market window), and the story's message (let all who are hungry come and eat) will resonate with readers; for those unfamiliar with the holiday, Newman's informative and personal appended author's note provides more detail. Waiting is a feeling with which young Seder-goers will likely be familiar. The protagonist's wait ends not as he expected, but satisfyingly nonetheless.
Kirkus Reviews
Passover nights are different, happily so for a boy and a kitten.It's a Seder night, and a boy and his large family welcome guests to the festive holiday celebration. There are many rituals in the evening, including filling a cup of wine for the prophet Elisha, but his favorite is opening the door to welcome Elijah in. Writing in contrasting couplets, Newman relates the many elements of the holiday as "inside" activities. There are also "outside" goings-on. A fluffy white cat in the yard does feline things that seem to mimic what the family and their guests are doing except in one respect. The family enjoys plenty of good food while the kitten "swishe[s] his skinny tail." Finally it is time to hold open the door, and who should be standing there but that irresistibly appealing fluffy white kitten. Boy and kitten, to be named Elijah of course, embrace as the others look on in joy. Gal's softly smudged illustrations, rendered in ink, charcoal, and digital collage, warmly reflect the text's contrasts, with bright yellows illuminating the household and iridescent blues bathing the outdoor scenes. The family and friends are racially diverse, with both black- and white-presenting group members. The boy himself presents white; the men wear kippot.While not the traditional holiday outcome, it should please celebrants and cat lovers all. (author's note, list of Seder rituals) (Picture book. 4-7)
Publishers Weekly
Every year at the Passover seder, Jews take a moment to open their front doors and symbolically welcome in the prophet Elijah, a bringer of hope and redemption. In this story, the boy charged with opening the door finds not a prophet but a stray white kitten on the doorstep. -Elijah?- asks the boy. -Meow!- replies the adorable feline, who is immediately welcomed into the family. Newman structures the lead-up to this adoption as a series of contrasts and perspective shifts between -Inside--the warm, happy home where an inclusive, multigenerational group is celebrating-and -Outside,- where the kitten wanders and waits before finding its new home. -Inside, the boy waited/ for the Seder to start./ Outside, the kitten waited/ for the moon to rise-; -Inside, the boy broke/ the middle matzo in half./ Outside, the kitten split/ a twig in two.- Gal-s lushly textured ink and charcoal drawings and close-ups of happy, candlelit faces convey the warmth of holiday togetherness and communal care. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
PreS-Gr 1 Simple, lyrical text describes how a contemporary Jewish family celebrates the Passover Seder. Inside, the house is filled with light and laughter as a young boy fills the ceremonial cup of wine for the Prophet Elijah, dips parsley in salt water, breaks the middle matzo, hears the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt, and enjoys the holiday meal. Meanwhile, a small stray kitten waits alone in the dark for the moon to rise. When the time comes for the boy to open the door for the Prophet Elijah, the kitten has scampered up the walk and is waiting to be invited inside. The text concludes: "And that's how Elijah [the kitten] found a home." The luminous detailed illustrationsdone in ink, charcoal, and digital collageuse deep gold, black, and blue tones to beautifully depict the contrast between the loving, festive atmosphere inside the house and the dark, still night outside. Readers will delight in finding the adorable white kitten on each spread and will notice how the kitten's actions outside mimic the boy's actions inside. A large, intergenerational and racially diverse family is warmly depicted. An extensive author's note is appended, providing background information about the history and customs of the Passover holiday along with a listing of some of the traditional rituals of the Passover Seder. VERDICT Anybody who has ever opened the door for Elijah during the Passover Seder will relish this charming, magical, and heartwarming story. Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
School Library Journal Starred Review (1/1/20)
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Word Count: 323
Reading Level: 2.2
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 2.2 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 511595 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: AD430L
Inside, there was laughter. Outside, there was silence. 
Inside, a boy hugged his family. Outside, a kitten sat alone. 
Inside, the boy waited for the Seder to start. Outside, the kitten waited for the moon to rise. 
Tonight would be different from all other nights. The boy knew this. The kitten did, too.

Excerpted from Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail by Lesléa Newman
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award and the National Jewish Book Award, Welcoming Elijah by celebrated author Lesléa Newman, unites a young boy and a stray kitten in a warm, lyrical story about Passover, family, and friendship.

Inside, a boy and his family sit around the dinner table to embrace the many traditions of their Passover Seder around the dinner table. Outside, a cat wonders, hungry and alone. When it's time for the symbolic Passover custom of opening the family's front door for the prophet Elijah, both the boy and the cat are in for a remarkable surprise.

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