Review: In Our Teeny Tiny Matzah House

In Our Teeny Tiny Matzah House

by Bill and Claire Wurtzel

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House), 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili

Told from the perspective of the house cat Kitzel, Bill and Claire Wurtzel’s In Our Teeny Tiny Matzah House is about a family who lives in a crowded teeny tiny matzah house and needs to prepare for Passover and the seder. The illustrations use photographs of ordinary foods (such as oranges, cottage cheese, celery, peppers, cantaloupe, avocado, strawberries, bananas, carrots and more) in extraordinary ways giving rise to expressions on the characters' faces that are simply remarkable. Favorites of this reviewer included the Statue of Liberty with broccoli torch, Souperman with a matzah ball nose, Mat Zahbrei, Cantor Loupe and Flankenella. Back matter includes step-by-step instructions to make Kitzel.

The story mentions many elements of Passover and the seder including ridding the house of bread (watch that donut with wafer hair walk away!), asking the Four Questions, listing the ten plagues, searching for the afikomen, singing Dayeinu, and of course, having guests to celebrate it all with, whether in person or remotely. But in addition to being a fun-to-read book, the magic of the storyline is brought out through the uniqueness of the food art illustrations. As such, readers may enjoy this book long after Passover has ended by trying to replicate the many characters within and coming up with their own original creations. Overall, an excellent addition to bookshelves for children of all ages and faiths that stimulates imagination, creativity and viewing art through an entirely different lens.

[Ed. note: The Teeny Tiny Matzah House is a variant of the crowded house Jewish folktale, made famous by It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach]

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Reviewer Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili is the author of several books including MYSTERY AT NIGHTLIGHT RESORT, SHLOIMIE’S LETTER, THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST WATCH, I LOVE MATZAH and GOLDIE AND THE GUESTS. She lives with her husband and children in a crowded teeny, tiny brick house. (Bio illustration courtesy of Michael Biniashvili.)