Book Review | The Yankee at the Seder
by Elka Weber

Score: 5

Illustrated by Adam Gustavson.

© 2009, Tricycle Press.

A 2009 Sydney Taylor Honor Book. 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.

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.

Grade Range: K-5 grades

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