Review: Pirate Passover

Pirate Passover

by Judy Press, illustrated by Amanda Gulliver

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Arlene Schenker

A pirate crew scrubbing and polishing their ship to get ready for Passover; the pirate captain preparing a seder plate; matzoh balls rolling off the plank into the ocean! What fun this clever Passover story is, presented in perfectly rhymed couplets.

When a storm strikes in the midst of the onboard seder, you can practically feel the fear of the crew as the ship rocks in the waves. The ship washes ashore, and the crew boldly invite themselves to a nearby family’s seder. The unfazed family welcomes them to join their table, and the seder begins. All the high points are there, from the Kiddush, to the four questions--as recited by the captain’s parrot--to the finding of the afikomen and singing Dayenu.

The illustrations do justice to the festivities with a diverse crew of expressive pirates and their plucky Captain Drew. The bright, saturated colors set a merry tone while the blues of the sea darken as the storm hits.

This is a good contender for the Sydney Taylor Book Award. Besides the rituals of the seder itself, the Passover themes are all present—scrubbing and cleaning one’s abode, ridding the place of chametz, welcoming the stranger. It would be a great pre-seder read to share with the little ones who will be sitting at the holiday table. 

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Reviewer Arlene Schenker has a degree in Child Development from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from New York University Law School. She has worked as a New York City primary grade teacher, a lawyer, divorce mediator, and a community activist and volunteer. She now spends most of her time reading and writing picture books.