Review: The Not-Quite-Perfect Passover

The Not-Quite-Perfect Passover (Ruby Celebrates! series)

by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Olga & Aleksey Ivanov

Albert Whitman & Co., 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Kathryn Hall

This lovely book is another entry in Laura Gehl's "Ruby Celebrates!" Jewish holiday series. In this episode, mistakes are made, accidents happen, but obstacles are overcome, and of course there is a happy ending. The art is pleasantly childlike, is in tune with the cheerful nature of the story, shows familial resemblances, and helps to tell the tale. Ruby and her brother appear to be about five and two years old respectively, and their actions, interactions and emotions are extremely realistic--they are just like my grandchildren!

The representation appears authentic for Ashkenazi Conservative or Reform Jews, with Passover an integral part of the story. Non-Jewish readers will still be able to appreciate the gentle humor of this book. It helps the reader understand Passover from the perspectives of children and adults. There is a full page note about Passover at the end. Unfortunately this book has no mention of the two mothers that appear in some of the other "Ruby Celebrates!" books, so it lacks LGBTQ+ representation. The grandmother's broken leg does show some disability representation, and the text mentions the things that she cannot do until her leg heals.

The Not-Quite-Perfect Passover is a perfectly fun book that points out that perfection is not necessary. It is a great choice for adults to read to children, or for young readers to read themselves, and completely appropriate for the age group.

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Reviewer Kathryn Hall is a retired pediatrician, lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, volunteer librarian for her synagogue for over twenty years and for her local LGBT+ center for the past six years, and active in her local PFLAG chapter since it was founded in 2008. She has a special interest in Jewish children's literature with LGBT+ content. She lives in Central California with her husband, the youngest of her three children, and two of her eight grandchildren.