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The Yankee at the Seder Hardcover – March 10, 2009


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The Yankee at the Seder + The Listeners (Tales of Young Americans) + The Last Brother: A Civil War Tale (Tales of Young Americans)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Tricycle Press (March 10, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582462569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582462561
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 9.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. When his mother invites a Union Army corporal—a Yankee Jew named Myer Levy—to join the family for Passover, Jacob is aghast: they're proud Virginia Confederates, and only 24 hours have passed since Lee's surrender. But Mother has tradition on her side: as she reminds Jacob, the Haggadah commands Jews to welcome all who are hungry... all who are in need to their seder tables. With a cinematic flair and rich, realist oils, Gustavson (A Very Improbable Story) depicts how a détente between North and South is forged—albeit tenuously—by the timeless values of faith, civility and chicken soup. Basing her writing on a historical incident, Weber makes an impressive debut. The fiercely held loyalties and enthusiasms of her 10-year-old narrator feel authentic, and her gift for dialogue—especially the Southern-Jewish inflections of Jacob's family—makes the pages fly. Above all, she deserves great credit for not forcing her characters to hug and learn in the final pages. Well, that was something, wasn't it? the mother says as the Yankee departs. Sensitively written and beautifully illustrated. Ages 7–9. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2–5—Just after the Civil War, a Jewish Yankee needing a place to observe Passover finds a Confederate family who offers him hospitality, mindful of the words in the Passover Haggadah, "All who are hungry, let them come and eat." Young Jacob, bitter about the South's defeat, is resentful at first, and the whole family finds the situation awkward. However, the Jewish tradition of debate and interpretation allows each side a voice, as the Josephsons interpret the story of the Exodus as rebellion against an unjust government, while Corporal Levy points out the misery of slavery and the joy of freedom. A blossoming friendship between Myer Levy and the Southern family begins the postwar healing process. Respect for others' opinions and openness to learning are the key themes of this beautifully told story. Masterful oil paintings pace the action and reflect characters' emotions. The historical basis for the tale is revealed in the endnote, which includes photos of Levy's family and his actual saber, and supporting material about Passover is included as front and back matter. This lovely tale infuses history with feeling and illuminates the spirit of a major Jewish holiday in a way that can be appreciated by readers of all backgrounds.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

This book read and felt honest.
Susan Kite
The author conveys the historical background of the Passover and the American Civil War in an easy to read and understand picture book.
White Fang
This book is a grist story that teaches the importance of inclusion and diversity.
Kelli

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Cowie on April 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was actually buying a copy for friends after reading the great review it got in Publisher's Weekly. Since we are not Jewish, I thought the theme might be too confusing for my young daughters. But when we got it, we couldn't help but have a look inside - the illustrations were beautiful and the story kept us all enthralled to the very end.

As it turns out, this is really a universal story about family, traditions, and, most importantly, acceptance; perfect for children of any background. The fact that it was true made it even better. Now I have to buy another copy for my friends, because we're keeping this one!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Anna on April 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
You don't have to be Jewish or a child to enjoy this book. So far we've shared this book with several very different families and they all loved it. It's a sensitive tale, well illustrated, with believable characters and it rings authentic. I wouldn't recommend it for toddlers, but anyone from age 6 and up can appreciate the story. I especially liked that the story's ending is uplifting without being sappy, which is no mean feat.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Abramczyk on April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My kids (4 - 8) really enjoyed the story and the beautiful illustrations.
It led to very interesting discussions with the older children as well.
It brought out certain themes very well; different perspectives to the same conflict (Civil War), slavery, freedom.

Altogether a very enjoyable & enlightening read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann Malaspina on April 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was captivated by Elka Weber's story of a boy who survived the Civil War in the Confederacy, and must now allow a hated Yankee soldier on his long walk home to join his family's seder. It's a story for Passover, but also for the rest of the year, since it's about war, forgiveness, generosity, family, and even a saber. The fact that it's based on a true story is amazing. Children can learn a lot from this book about the Civil War and Passover, but they will also be entertained by the strong characters and entertaining story. Adam Gustavson's oil paintings add to the vivid sense of time and place.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anna Olswanger on May 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
An unusual Passover story, told with humor and suspense. The language flows and the theme of liberty will elicit discussions about the role of Southern Jews in the Civil War. I've heard the author speak about her research behind the book, and I was impressed.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover 9 on January 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This story gave me chills. It is revealing, powerful, tense and emotional. Set in Virginia right after the Civil War has been lost by the South, a family of Southern Jews is preparing for Passover, when a young Yankee officer shows up to share the Seder meal with them. The story is told through the eyes of the youngest male member of the family. The language of the story is excellent and simple, the message it delivers is as well - it is ultimately our behavior by which we are judged. Let's not stop there. The extraordinary illustrations so beautifully complement the story that it would be hard to imagine one without the other. Each picture is an expression of the words on the page and in most cases, the characters come out of the frame as they bring the story to life. The artist is masterful in conveying the emotions of the characters as they confront their political differences while working their way through the Haggadah. Sorrow, shame, joy, anger, and surprise are just a few of the emotions so admirably illustrated in this extraordinary work. - KATHY BLOOMFIELD - WELLESLEY, MA
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By White Fang on February 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"The Yankee at the Seder" is a beautifully illustrated children's book. It is a 9 3/4 inch by 12 3/4 inch, 36 page book with a beautifully illustrated dust jacket and pictorial cover. The subject of the Civil War combined with the celebration of the Passover Seder is a wonderful story plot which can be enjoyed by all ages. Anyone in 4th grade or above should be able to read this book without much trouble. There are a few Jewish words that the average reader may not know like: Afikoman, Haggadah, Matzoh, and Seder. Fortunately the author includes a glossary at the beginning of the book which explains the meanings of these words. The author also includes a biographical sketch and historical information about the characters in the book and the historical account of the Passover at the end of the book. Every other page is a full color, full page illustration. These illustrations accurately portray the feelings and personalities of the characters through their facial expressions. This book is based on a true story which occurred at the end of the American Civil War.

The long Civil War is finally over and 10 year old Jacob is sitting on his front porch eating a piece of matzoh and lamenting the Confederate loss of the War of Northern Aggression. Suddenly a Yankee Jewish corporal came walking down the street and asked Jacob for a piece of his matzoh. Jacob ran in the house and told his mother that a Yankee Jew was outside. Jacob's mother invites the Yankee stranger to their seder that evening. This southern Jewish family puts into practice the meaning of the Seder -- "All who are hungry, let them come and eat: all who are in need, let them join us for the Passover meal.
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