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The Passover Cowboy Hardcover – February 15, 2017
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From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Jacob and his family emigrate from Russia to Argentina in the early 1900s. He longs for authentic bombachas pants and a lasso and to ride a horse in the rodeo like his new friend Benito. The boy also hopes that Benito will accept his invitation to join Jacob and his family for the Passover seder. In the Old Country, their home would be filled with family and friends for the holiday. Instead, this year it is just Jacob, his sister, and his parents, but their home is still filled with the wonderful smells of the traditional foods, and Jacob and his family take comfort in the familiar rituals of the holiday. When there's a loud knock at the door, everyone is startled by the arrival of three rowdy chickens, followed by Benito, who has brought Jacob his own lasso and is interested in learning about the Jewish celebration of freedom. While there are many books about the Jewish American immigrant experience, Goldin represents the little-known story of the more than 25,000 Jews who settled in Argentina. The intricate, textured, and traditionally styled paintings beautifully complement the narrative and help bring this unique immigrant, and Jewish holiday, tale to life. Details about many of the holiday customs are integrated into the text, and an appended author's note contains information about Passover and the Jews of Argentina. VERDICT A lovely but nonessential addition to most collections.—Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
Russian Jews settle in Argentina, a little-known but timely fact. In Argentina, two pale-skinned boys are racing their horses. Benito, born in the country, is comfortably attired, while Jacob is still dressed in the too-tight clothing of the old country. It is just before the Jewish festival of Passover, and Jacob invites his new friend to the Seder, but Benito turns him down. Jacob returns home thinking about their lives in Russia, with houses so close by that neighbors visited frequently. At his house, his mother and sister are busy with the many delicious food preparations. Still, Jacob wishes Benito would come opening the door for the prophet Elijah and other guests is part of the celebration. He is happy, though, to receive a very special gift from his mother: Argentinian clothing perfect for riding horses. When the door is opened, however, chaos follows as messy chickens invade their kitchen. Benito arrives just in time to help save the dinner and present his friend with a much-needed present, a lasso. Goldin's story is a warm-spirited tale of an immigrant family. An author's note explains the work of Baron Maurice de Hirsch, who sponsored Russian Jewish immigration to Argentina in the late 19th century. Capaldi's watercolor illustrations fill the pages with action and personality. A Seder and cowboy clothes are beautifully woven together. (Picture book. 4-7) --Kirkus Reviews
A perfect Passover story of freedom, with pictures that realistically set it in a century-ago Argentina. --Jane Yolen, author of The Devil's Arithmetic, The Stone Angel, and O Jerusalem
Jacob and his family have relocated from Russia to Argentina. But life here is an adjustment: "He thought of how he missed his friends in Russia. How they would run in and out of each other's houses, one house right next to the other. It was very different here where everything was so far apart." At Passover, he invites his new friend Benito to his Seder and hopes he will attend, but isn't sure if he will. During the dinner, Benito arrives: "I wanted to see what this celebration of freedom was all about," said Benito. "You know, we struggled for our freedom, too, here in Argentina." Finely appointed, lush watercolor illustrations of the characters and Argentine landscape give vibrancy to this well-paced story of tradition, family and friendship punctuated with humor and warmth. --The Washington Post
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minimal plot -- maximum illustrations.