The Passover Guest

Illustrated by Sean Rubin
Look inside
Sydney Taylor Award Winner
 
A girl's kindness to a mysterious magician leads to a Passover miracle.


Beautifully illustrated and deftly told, this story full of hope, tradition-- and just a touch of magic-- is a new Passover classic in the making.
 
It's the Spring of 1933 in Washington D.C., and the Great Depression is hitting young Muriel's family hard. Her father has lost his job and her family barely has enough food most days-- let alone for a Passover Seder. They don't even have any wine to leave out for the prophet Elijah's ceremonial cup.

With no feast to rush home to, Muriel wanders by the Lincoln Memorial, where she encounters a mysterious magician in whose hands juggled eggs become lit candles. After she makes a kind gesture, he encourages her to run home for her Seder, and when she does, she encounters a holiday miracle: a bountiful feast of brisket, soup, and matzah, enough for their whole community to share.
 
But who was this mysterious benefactor? When Muriel sees Elijah's cup is empty, she has a good idea.
 
Sean Rubin's finely-detailed, historically-accurate illustrations, with a color pallete inspired by Marc Chagall, bring a strong sense of setting to this fresh retelling of the I.L. Peretz story best known through Uri Shulevitz's 1973 adaptation The Magician.
 
A perfect gift for those celebrating Passover, or to introduce the holiday traditions to young readers, The Passover Guest is sure to enchant readers of all ages.
 
Brief essays at the end of the story detail author Susan Kusel's inspiration for this retelling, artist Sean Rubin's influences and research, and introduce the traditions associated with Passover celebrations. 

An Association of Jewish Libraries Spring Holiday Highlight
A CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
A Booklist Editors' Choice
A CCBC Choice
A CSMCL Best Multicultural Children's Book of the Year
 
Susan Kusel is a synagogue librarian and children's book buyer for an independent bookstore. She has served as a member of the Caldecott Medal selection committee and the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. The Passover Guest is Kusel's first picture book. She lives in Arlington, VA.

Sean Rubin has illustrated several books for children. He wrote and illustrated the graphic novel Bolivar, which was nominated for an Eisner award and is being adapted into a feature film with Fox Studios. He also illustrated The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins. Rubin studied art and archeology at Princeton University. He lives in Charleston, VA.
  • WINNER | 2022
    Sydney Taylor Book Award, Association of Jewish Libraries
  • SELECTION | 2022
    Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices
  • SELECTION | 2022
    Sydney Taylor Book Award, Association of Jewish Libraries
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Booklist Books for Youth Editors' Choice
  • SELECTION | 2021
    CSMCL Best Books
★ "Filled with references to the holiday and accompanying traditions, this is a superb addition to modern celebrations. . . . Kusel’s charming debut is a necessary volume for every holiday collection."—School Library Journal, Starred Review
 
★ "Rubin's digitally enhanced graphite illustrations are rendered in the style of Chagall in terms of color (blues and greens, accented in yellow), lighting, windows, and even a few chickens. . . . Among the many Passover titles, this one stands out, full of hope and heart and set in a historical context that will resonate today."Booklist, Starred Review

★ "Rubin’s line-and-color art beautifully conveys a Washington, D.C., spring with cherry blossoms blooming, crowded streets that also evoke a long-ago, slightly off-kilter European town, and a gloriously bright holiday evening. Kindness is rewarded and a holiday is celebrated in this endearing, satisfying story."Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"With its warm, forthright narrative and beautifully evoked setting, this book is an enchanting addition to the Passover shelf."—Publishers Weekly
 
"In the book's stunning mixed-media art, each double-page spread conveys emotion through color and light. . . . While there have been several adaptations of Peretz's tale (e.g., Shulevitz's The Magician), this version's message of hope during dark times feels especially relevant now, and the young protagonist and vividly depicted setting make the story accessible to picture-book audiences." —The Horn Book

"Kusel's adaptation preserves the wonder of a holiday that always captivates children who yearn to lay eyes on Elijah or at least witness a sign that he has indeed visited during their Passover Seder. . . .  this is a wonderful story about hope." — AJL News and Reviews

About

Sydney Taylor Award Winner
 
A girl's kindness to a mysterious magician leads to a Passover miracle.


Beautifully illustrated and deftly told, this story full of hope, tradition-- and just a touch of magic-- is a new Passover classic in the making.
 
It's the Spring of 1933 in Washington D.C., and the Great Depression is hitting young Muriel's family hard. Her father has lost his job and her family barely has enough food most days-- let alone for a Passover Seder. They don't even have any wine to leave out for the prophet Elijah's ceremonial cup.

With no feast to rush home to, Muriel wanders by the Lincoln Memorial, where she encounters a mysterious magician in whose hands juggled eggs become lit candles. After she makes a kind gesture, he encourages her to run home for her Seder, and when she does, she encounters a holiday miracle: a bountiful feast of brisket, soup, and matzah, enough for their whole community to share.
 
But who was this mysterious benefactor? When Muriel sees Elijah's cup is empty, she has a good idea.
 
Sean Rubin's finely-detailed, historically-accurate illustrations, with a color pallete inspired by Marc Chagall, bring a strong sense of setting to this fresh retelling of the I.L. Peretz story best known through Uri Shulevitz's 1973 adaptation The Magician.
 
A perfect gift for those celebrating Passover, or to introduce the holiday traditions to young readers, The Passover Guest is sure to enchant readers of all ages.
 
Brief essays at the end of the story detail author Susan Kusel's inspiration for this retelling, artist Sean Rubin's influences and research, and introduce the traditions associated with Passover celebrations. 

An Association of Jewish Libraries Spring Holiday Highlight
A CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
A Booklist Editors' Choice
A CCBC Choice
A CSMCL Best Multicultural Children's Book of the Year
 

Author

Susan Kusel is a synagogue librarian and children's book buyer for an independent bookstore. She has served as a member of the Caldecott Medal selection committee and the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. The Passover Guest is Kusel's first picture book. She lives in Arlington, VA.

Sean Rubin has illustrated several books for children. He wrote and illustrated the graphic novel Bolivar, which was nominated for an Eisner award and is being adapted into a feature film with Fox Studios. He also illustrated The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins. Rubin studied art and archeology at Princeton University. He lives in Charleston, VA.

Awards

  • WINNER | 2022
    Sydney Taylor Book Award, Association of Jewish Libraries
  • SELECTION | 2022
    Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices
  • SELECTION | 2022
    Sydney Taylor Book Award, Association of Jewish Libraries
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Booklist Books for Youth Editors' Choice
  • SELECTION | 2021
    CSMCL Best Books

Praise

★ "Filled with references to the holiday and accompanying traditions, this is a superb addition to modern celebrations. . . . Kusel’s charming debut is a necessary volume for every holiday collection."—School Library Journal, Starred Review
 
★ "Rubin's digitally enhanced graphite illustrations are rendered in the style of Chagall in terms of color (blues and greens, accented in yellow), lighting, windows, and even a few chickens. . . . Among the many Passover titles, this one stands out, full of hope and heart and set in a historical context that will resonate today."Booklist, Starred Review

★ "Rubin’s line-and-color art beautifully conveys a Washington, D.C., spring with cherry blossoms blooming, crowded streets that also evoke a long-ago, slightly off-kilter European town, and a gloriously bright holiday evening. Kindness is rewarded and a holiday is celebrated in this endearing, satisfying story."Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"With its warm, forthright narrative and beautifully evoked setting, this book is an enchanting addition to the Passover shelf."—Publishers Weekly
 
"In the book's stunning mixed-media art, each double-page spread conveys emotion through color and light. . . . While there have been several adaptations of Peretz's tale (e.g., Shulevitz's The Magician), this version's message of hope during dark times feels especially relevant now, and the young protagonist and vividly depicted setting make the story accessible to picture-book audiences." —The Horn Book

"Kusel's adaptation preserves the wonder of a holiday that always captivates children who yearn to lay eyes on Elijah or at least witness a sign that he has indeed visited during their Passover Seder. . . .  this is a wonderful story about hope." — AJL News and Reviews

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