Review: Under-the-Sea Seder
written & illustrated by Ann D. Koffsky
Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House), 2023
In Under-the-Sea Seder, Miri is crunching the matzoh too loud, she’s slurping the grape juice, and doing just about anything she can do to fight off her Passover seder boredom. Her parents beg her to be quiet and sit still, but Miri simply can’t, so she escapes underneath the seder table and to an imaginary Under-the-Sea Seder, accompanied by Abby the cat, complete with submarines, underwater caves, and sea monsters. After a truly original and hilarious version of the four questions, Miri’s parents call her back in time for seder songs, which she can sing at the top of her lungs.
This is a book that every Jewish family will connect to and laugh out loud with. The illustrations are colorful, charming, and add to the overall fun and humor of the entire story, as well as make the reader want to turn the page. The illustrations enhance the story; in the beginning, when Miri is bored, the background is without color. But as the story goes underwater, both seders, underwater and on land, become colorful and definitely not boring.
For every child (and adult) who has sat through a seder asking, “how much longer?,” Under-the-Sea Seder will have you giggling every step of the way. The book invites families to make the Passover seder fun and active, with suggestions that are easy to implement. This book is certain to become a staple in every Jewish family’s library.
This story has universal appeal and is very authentic, both in the universality of the story of a bored child at a Passover seder, and in the playful, humorous telling. The Jewish content is integral without being didactic. The book does assume that the reader will have a basic knowledge of the Passover seder, which might limit some readership; however, the illustrations represent a diverse spectrum of who might be at a seder meal. Under-the-Sea Seder will increase a reader’s understanding because it is so relatable and because of the humor and creativity.