Review: Matzah Craze

Matzah Craze

 by Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh, illustrated by Lauren Gallegos

Kar-Ben Publishing (a division of Lerner Publishing Group)

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Mirele Kessous

Matzah Craze, by Jamie Kiffel-Alcheh and illustrated by Lauren Gallegos, takes a novel spin on the holiday of Passover. It can be awkward to bring a “Pesadic” (kosher-for-passover) lunch to school when your classmates are not familiar with Passover and its dietary restrictions. What’s a public school kid to do? Why, share the story of Passover (and the matzah) with her friends, of course! And what a diverse array of friends Noa has! Gallegos has done an excellent job portraying children of different races and backgrounds, all of whom welcome a short lesson on Jewish history from their Jewish friend. This is all done in simple rhyme, and the ease of language combined with the bright, appealing illustrations by a true professional makes this an engaging read aloud for children ages 4-7. Buy this one for your kids and grandkids if they attend any sort of non-Jewish educational setting.

Matzah Craze meets all of the Sydney Taylor Book Award criteria, especially #3 (The book is appropriate for the intended grade level in style, vocabulary, format, and illustration) and #5 (Particular attention will be paid to titles that demonstrate the broad diversity of the Jewish experience, including diversity of time period and country of origin). It's nice to see a Jewish picture book that depicts reality for Jewish children who attend public school, rather than Jewish day schools. All of the information about the holiday and the illustrations reflect the actual rules and story from the Torah.

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Mirele Kessous is the Assistant Library Media Specialist at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. She is a certified librarian with a specialty in children's/young adult library services and moonlights as an illustrator. She married an Israeli and has 3 small children.