Review: Afikoman, Where'd You Go? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure

Afikoman, Where'd You Go? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure

by Rebecca Gardyn Levington, illustrated by Noa Kelner

Rocky Pond Books (imprint of Penguin Random House), 2024

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili
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Beginning at the point in the seder in which children search for the afikoman, this story takes young readers along with a diverse cast of cousins as they go through every room in the house and outdoors in an attempt to find the runaway afikoman. I appreciated that even though the target audience is young, the author's rhyming upbeat verses use an advanced vocabulary (determined, dismantle, investigate, befuddled, and bewildered, to name just a few choice words). The illustrations are both colorful and interesting as they are drawn from different angles and perspectives. I especially enjoyed the one showing the cut-out of the whole house with the interiors of each room.

Readers who have experienced a seder, or have learned about it in school, will recognize the seder plate on the table. For those who are not familiar with Passover or the seder, a glossary of nine words to explain the Hebrew terms sprinkled throughout the story, will aid readers of all faiths and backgrounds to follow along. All will enjoy finding the afikoman hidden in each spread and chanting the refrain, "Is he hiding somewhere high? Is he hiding somewhere low? Afikoman? Afikoman? Afikoman? Where'd you go?"

One note: it appears that the seder in this story takes place in the daytime, as indicated by the wall clock in Imma's office showing 4:00, meaning the seder must have started even earlier. It also seems to be light outside when searching in the front yard and even after the seder is over, as no dark skies are shown. Although Passover seders (are meant to) take place in the evening, it is unlikely that the target audience will pick up on this.

Editor's Note: This book was included on the Association of Jewish Libraries' Spring 2024 Holiday Highlights list.

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Reviewer Freidele Galya Soban Biniashvili is the author of I LOVE MATZAH, MYSTERY AT PEASANT'S INN, JUST ONE MATCH, MYSTERY AT NIGHTLIGHT RESORT, THE MYSTERY OF THE LOST WATCH and many other titles for readers of all ages. She lives with her family in Toronto, where she works in the library at an all-boys elementary school. (Bio illustration courtesy of Michael Biniashvili.)