12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2001
A merry and heartwarming story with a dentist uncle who moonlights as a magician. When he attends the Passover seder with his new wife he is chosen to hide the matzoh. Will he use his magician skills and make the matzoh disappear forever? Will the lively children in this story ever be able to retrieve it? An unusual story that both introduces the warmth and detail of the Passover holiday and, at the same time, tells a funny, delightful family-oriented story. Accessible to people of any religion, this is an unusually good book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2012
Our Christian family is interested in the passover and found two books at the local library; this being one of them. This is a sweet story that has a lot of details of the seder woven seamlessly into what is foremost a story of a particular family's celebration and love. We really enjoyed it and felt that maybe we were there also -- never having been to an actual seder. We also really liked the educational quality of the highly detailed non-fiction book "Celebrating Passover" by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Passover Magic" is a nicely presented picture book that tells the story of what happens at a well-attended Passover Seder from the point of view of a young girl. Uncle Harry, a magician, shows up to spice up the evening somewhat. I can imagine this story being used with young kids in a Hebrew School to reinforce to them what happens at a Seder, or perhaps with non-Jewish kids in some kind of multiculturalism program. I enjoyed reading it because it reminded me of the seders I used to experience growing up in New York back when a lot of my family was within driving distance.
Note that the book is all about the mechanics of a Seder -- there is not a lot of delving into the story of the Exodus itself. In the back of the book there is a one-page summary of what Passover is all about, and an English rendering of the Four Questions.
If you're looking for a children's book for the Passover Seder, this would be a good choice.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a really cute, richly illustrated book about Passover. While the story is not all that original, it would serve as a great introduction to Passover for younger children. The "Magic" of the title has a double meaning for the young narrator: the magic-like quality of Passover traditions, as well as the magic that her Uncle Harry (a part-time magician) performs every year. The book concludes with a succinct overview of the history of Passover including traditions and their origins, and the final page asks the four questions of "Why is this night different from all other nights?" By the end of the book, a child should be able to answer all four.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
My hubby read this to our almost 3 year old daughter and she listened through the whole book while on his lap looking at the great illustrations. The pictures of family and togetherness and traditions are all very nice. I recommend this as a good intro to Passover for kids.
It's wonderful to see the Marshall Cavendish Children line re-issue this 1995 endearing Classic celebrating the family togetherness that Passover brings. The illustrations are quirky and a little bit "busy" at times, but that is part of their charm. While there is some teaching at the end which explains the Origins of Passover and lists the Four Questions, this is really a fun storybook about a large family coming together to enjoy a Holiday meal. The focus is on the childrens' experiences of the busy preparations, the hustle & bustle arrival of idiosyncratic but lovable family and finally the grand entrance of family comedian and entertainer, Uncle Harry the Dentist who is also a Magician on the side. We've heard a lot about him already and he is a "character", alright! The love and anticipation of his arrival is apparent and he doesn't disappoint. Uncle Harry is portrayed as a mensch and the children adore him for it! He is also gentle and clever in using his magical talents to present gifts to the family.
The book will delight children who anticpate such holidays that gather far flung family especially since much of the book details the many hours of joyful prepartion of the traditional foods which are named in italics but not really explained. As the sun sets, the family open their Haggadot, again named but not clearly explained, and the Seder begins. If I have any criticisms of this book it is only that this story is intended for children who already know what Haroset is or why Papa and Grandpa roast a bone and prepare certain herbs for the Seder plate. This IS all explained at the end, but for children unfamilair with these sacred prepartions or who are not Jewish, a parent could choose to read the back pages FIRST and only THEN read the story. It will make the reading of the pages about the Seder meal more meaningful as the Four Questions are asked.
After the Seder is finished the children all begin the tradition of searching for the Afikomen, the special Matzah that has been reserved from supper for this game. When the game is over and presents have been given, the childrens' Mama opens the door for Elijah to see if the Prhphet will drink from the special cup they have set out for him. The children see the cup wobble but wonder if Uncle Harry the Magician is at work. Again, the tradition is not explained. One has to know it already or have read the last page first! I don't think it would have been a bad idea to have placed those pages at the beginning.
After dinner, everyone dances and surely your children will want to go back and re-examine the delightfully intricite illustrations filled with happy faces, kitty cats & dogs playing in corners of a happy house, the morning beforehand where eveyone has to share a bathroom half asleep and tired from the journey, where WILL the dog and cat be hangning out this time and so forth! It's a very sweet book that will likely remind your kids of other family gatherings filled with the arrivals of loved ones.
One should keep in mind that this is a re-issue of a book from 1995 before everyone held a smart-phone attached to their hand and the depictions of the Traditional but NOT Orthodox Jewish family are a little bit old-fashioned. Me. I find this charming but I can see where some reviewers might claim that the book is out of step with mixed marriage families or Observant families that don't resemble the parents and children in this book. To them I would say, oh peshaw! Read the book anyway - the kids won't care and they may be fascinated by the abundance of generations and extended family that come together to celebrate. Uncle Harry the Magician is a little bit too "stereotyped" at times, but don't we all have an Uncle Harry in our families too? Clearly the kids adore him and this is a loving family all squashing together at the large dining room table to share heaping mounds of tradtional foods and to remember a significant historical event in their past. For non-Jewish Families, this might make a nice comparison to Thanskgiving and an opportunity for discussion.
If the illustrations strike you as being a little too, shall we say, Delancy Street Traditional, and if the kids can't quite see themselves in the book because they don't resemble the children in that family, this might be a good opportunity to tell your older kids the story of how your family came to America if your family arrived through Ellis Island or in other great waves of Eastern European Jewish Emigration. If your family has a different history or is Interfaith, use this as a teaching moment as well. If your family isn't Jewish at all and your kids want to know why this family doesn't look at all like their friends down the street, you have another chance to explain the differences. Using the teaching pages at the back, this book would make for a good introduction to Passover for your non-Jewish children!
My daughter (almost 5) is very familiar with the Biblical account of the Exodus and the first passover but had no idea of how it is celebrated by Jewish people today. I have atteder a few seders before but my understanding was limited. With Passover in a couple of days I was excited to review the story of the first passover, the instruction for Jewish people to continue the passover meal as a perpetual remebrance, and how the passover points forward to Jesus as perfect and final passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7).
Passover Magic is a good story with excellent illustrations and fun characters, particularly the magician-dentist Uncle makes for a fun background to discuss passover. I wish there were more mention of what passover actually is about, but the references are there and easily led to review and dialog about the first passover. The illustrations are very well done and make for a fun book that a pre-reader would enjoy flipping through independently after reading the story. The focus is on the way that one family gathers annually to celebrate the passover and the focus of the story is therefore on their celebration and not particularly on what they are celebrating. The reason I am giving it 4 stars instead of 5 is the very fleeting discussion of the first passover. Even as the family reads their haggadot and the questions related to the first passover are asked, the responses are not given or summarized. Instead the focus is on the tradition through the first person eyes of the young girl, Molly.
Nevertheless, overall it will be enjoyed by Jewish families seeing another family celebrate passover. And non-Jewish families can learn of a very important celebration they might be unfamiliar with.
This slim paperback is a quick read and fairly straightforward. Molly's family is gathering for Passover and there is so much to do. We follow the different characters as the family gets dressed up for the important night and all the steps are taken to prepare for the festive meal. There is a moment of chaos that is set right with the arrival of Uncle Harry who is a dentist during the week and magician on the weekends!
The book proceeds through the Seder with its steps - the washing of the hands, the eating of the parsley dipped in salt water, etc. Each step is not broken up but is folded into the narration. There are no heavy handed explanations here and, like the children, the focus is on the food and what will happen to the Afikoman.
The illustrations are charming and the text flows well. This would be a great book to read with a younger child so that the parent can add the explanations that the book does not provide.
The book does not seek to explain the holiday or the steps of the meal. The emphasis in this book is on the family celebration and on an Ashkenazi version of the Seder. If, like so many of us, you are far from family and do not have a large Passover get together, this may not be the ideal book for your child. However, if you do have a big family Seder, the author has captured the hustle and bustle of Passover day quite well in this book.
on January 2, 2013
Like most children's books about Passover, this one focuses on introducing the child to the passover seder through the usual means of focusing on the standard kid friendly aspects (in this case the hiding of the afikoman), and telling a story about the setting. As is usual for kids books, little time is spent discussing the holiday itself or the story of the exodus. In this case the story revolves around the protagonist's uncle who is an amateur magician, and does a host of kid-friendly tricks (making presents appear from thin air, etc.), and who makes the afikoman "disappear" as well. It is a good one, and is told at e level appropriate for 4-8 year olds. The main issue I had with the story is that the characters all seem to be very specific and unusual, making them very hard to connect to. (Unless your child has an uncle who is a remarried magician I suppose). It's a good story, it's just not likely to be one of your, or your kids, favorites.
The author and illustrator have done a remarkable job in explaining the Jewish holiday of Passover to children and young readers. It is an overall delightful story about family and the holiday as well as a magician/dentist uncle who pays a visit with his new wife.
There is some adventure as a small boy won't wear tie but carries his stuffed bear around the house. The book details the preparation which includes cleaning the house and using special Passover dishes for the annual holiday.
My only real complaint is that I feel the book is dated to another time period. Many Jewish families have non-Jewish guests and relatives at their Seders. I would hope that the book would have allowed the new Aunt Eda to be the exception.
Still it's a pretty children's book and it explains Passover very well without going into too much detail. There are still other foods unmentioned here to help observe the holiday.