Review: Tyrannosaurus Tsuris: A Passover Story

Tyrannosaurs Tsuris: A Passover Story

by Susan Tarcov, illustrated by Elissambura

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2024

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Claire Freeland

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Susan Tarcov and Elissambura team up in this delightful Passover story set among the dinosaurs. All the dinosaurs are preparing their Passover seders, each one confronting tsuris, a Yiddush word for trouble. But no one’s tsuris is as great as that of Tyrannosaurus. None of the dinosaurs wants to come to his seder because they are afraid of him. At the end, the dinosaur community decides that together they are safe around Tyrannosaurus. They each solve their own sources of tsuris by pooling their resources for one grand seder. In so doing, they help Tyrannosaurus fulfill the mitzvah of having guests at the seder. A brief author's note reviews the basics of Passover. 

The story does a wonderful job of defining tsuris, giving multiple examples. It recounts preparations for a traditional Ashkenazic seder with brisket, parsley, chicken soup, and matzah. You don’t have to be a dinosaur lover to enjoy these adorably rendered dinosaur characters. The bright palate and expressive faces have mega kid appeal.

The text is accessible to Jews and non-Jews. The Passover content is light, although the dinosaurs are wearing kippot at the eventual seder, which features a seder plate and a stack of matzot. The key Jewish content is the use of the Yiddish word tsuris, and the concept of the importance of having guests at the seder. Though children may not directly relate to the tsuris of not having enough parsley or brisket to serve, they will catch on to the meaning of tsuris. Adults can engage kids in discussions of tsuris, listening and responding to the troubles of others, the value of community, as well as preparations for the seder and of the seder meal.

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Reviewer Claire Freeland is a Baltimore, Maryland based children's book writer. She has co-authored seven books, published by Magination Press, that guide children and teens in new ways of thinking about feelings and behaviors, and introduce the science of psychology. Her current work focuses on Jewish-themed board and picture books. She has done her fair share of trading tales of tsuris.