Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail

by Leslea Newman (Author) Susan Gal (Illustrator)

Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade
Celebrated author Lesléa Newman unites a young boy and a stray kitten in a warm, lyrical story about Passover, family, and friendship. Inside, a boy and his family sit around the dinner table to embrace the many traditions of their Passover Seder around the dinner table. Outside, a cat wonders, hungry and alone. When it's time for the symbolic Passover custom of opening the family's front door for the prophet Elijah, both the boy and the cat are in for a remarkable surprise.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

PreS-Gr 1--Simple, lyrical text describes how a contemporary Jewish family celebrates the Passover Seder. Inside, the house is filled with light and laughter as a young boy fills the ceremonial cup of wine for the Prophet Elijah, dips parsley in salt water, breaks the middle matzo, hears the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt, and enjoys the holiday meal. Meanwhile, a small stray kitten waits alone in the dark for the moon to rise. When the time comes for the boy to open the door for the Prophet Elijah, the kitten has scampered up the walk and is waiting to be invited inside. The text concludes: "And that's how Elijah [the kitten] found a home." The luminous detailed illustrations--done in ink, charcoal, and digital collage--use deep gold, black, and blue tones to beautifully depict the contrast between the loving, festive atmosphere inside the house and the dark, still night outside. Readers will delight in finding the adorable white kitten on each spread and will notice how the kitten's actions outside mimic the boy's actions inside. A large, intergenerational and racially diverse family is warmly depicted. An extensive author's note is appended, providing background information about the history and customs of the Passover holiday along with a listing of some of the traditional rituals of the Passover Seder. VERDICT Anybody who has ever opened the door for Elijah during the Passover Seder will relish this charming, magical, and heartwarming story.--Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Every year at the Passover seder, Jews take a moment to open their front doors and symbolically welcome in the prophet Elijah, a bringer of hope and redemption. In this story, the boy charged with opening the door finds not a prophet but a stray white kitten on the doorstep. "Elijah?" asks the boy. "Meow!" replies the adorable feline, who is immediately welcomed into the family. Newman structures the lead-up to this adoption as a series of contrasts and perspective shifts between "Inside"--the warm, happy home where an inclusive, multigenerational group is celebrating--and "Outside," where the kitten wanders and waits before finding its new home. "Inside, the boy waited/ for the Seder to start./ Outside, the kitten waited/ for the moon to rise"; "Inside, the boy broke/ the middle matzo in half./ Outside, the kitten split/ a twig in two." Gal's lushly textured ink and charcoal drawings and close-ups of happy, candlelit faces convey the warmth of holiday togetherness and communal care. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Leslea Newman
Lesléa Newman has written more than seventy books and anthologies, including the highly successful and controversial picture book Heather Has Two Mommies. She is also the author of October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard and Sparkle Boy. www.lesleanewman.com

Susan Gal holds a BFA from Art Center College of Design and has illustrated several books for children, including Abracadabra, It's Spring! and Here Is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays. galgirlstudio.com

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
January 20, 2020
Age Range
5 - 8 years
Sydney Taylor Book Award
Gold Medalist None

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