The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel, illustrated by Sean Rubin

Published by Neal Porter Books

The Passover Guest: Kusel, Susan, Rubin, Sean: 9780823445622: Amazon.com:  Books
Interrogating the Passover Guest: A Susan Kusel and Sean Rubin Interview -  A Fuse #8 Production

Summary:  Muriel is excited that Passover is approaching, but sobered by the knowledge that there probably won’t be much at her Seder dinner.  It’s 1933, and her father has lost his job.  As she walks home through the streets of Washington, DC, she spies a ragged man performing magic tricks in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  When she gives him the only penny she has, he tells her to hurry home where she’ll find a Seder dinner waiting.  When she gets home, though, the house is as empty as it has been for weeks.  Her parents are trying to decide whose dinner they might be able to share, when there’s a knock on the door.  It’s the man from the Lincoln Memorial, and in an instant a magical dinner has appeared.  Friends and neighbors join Muriel and her family for the meal, which goes far into the night.  Just before midnight, Muriel remembers the wine in Elijah’s cup.  When she looks, she sees that the cup is empty, and she realizes who the mysterious stranger was.  Includes notes from the author and artist and a note on the Passover holiday.  40 pages; ages 4-9.

Pros:  Based on a story by I. L. Peretz (also the basis for Uri Shulevitz’s 1973 book The Magician), this story blends magic with a real time and place (Washington, D.C. in the Great Depression), offering hope in difficult times.  The illustrations, based on Marc Chagall’s art, do an excellent job with the magic realism as well.  

Cons:  The magician is a little creepy looking in a scary clown kind of way.

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