Get your kids ready for Easter and Passover with these books

  • Apr. 7, 2017 12:30 a.m.

Books to read with your kids this spring:

“Egg,” by Kevin Henkes

Acclaimed author and illustrator Kevin Henke’s newest offering is as scrumptious to look at as it is to read. Four candy-colored eggs – pink, yellow, blue and green – make up the entire first page. Each is centered in its own square, bordered with chocolaty brown lines. The text is simple: “egg/egg/egg/egg.” On the next page, the grid-like format continues, but this time, three eggs bear a slight crack. Thus, the text: “crack/crack/crack/egg.” Chicks pop out of all of the eggs except one: “surprise/surprise/surprise/egg.” The chicks are bewildered by the unopened egg and peck at it until it opens. It’s not a chick that emerges, though, but another creature – one they initially fear. It’s a lovely tale of acceptance, friendship and feelings, represented by an economy of words and uncomplicated-yet-masterful illustrations. Tuck this treasure into your tot’s Easter basket.

“We’re Going on an Egg Hunt,” by Laura Hughes

The eggs hidden in this lift-the-flap book might not be chocolate, but they’re just as much fun to find as the real thing. A family of rabbits trots toward a barn to locate 10 eggs, hidden among lambs, chicks, ducks and even bees. Surprises abound – a pink-and-blue egg hidden behind a flap adorned with flowers, a blue-speckled egg behind a bush, a purple egg behind a chicken. Each flap has a number on the inside, so kids can keep track of how many eggs they find. Some flaps, however, reveal non-eggs, from a snail to a hedgehog to ducklings. A huge egg offers the biggest eye-opener – a hungry wolf! He’s no match for the speed of the rabbits, though, and the story ends with the family happily chomping on their chocolate eggs. Playful ink-and-watercolor illustrations portray a jubilant family outing.

“The Passover Cowboy,” by Barbara Diamond Goldin; illustrated by Gina Capaldi

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.

“Passover Scavenger Hunt,” by Shanna Silva; illustrated by Miki Sakamoto

Rachel’s Great-Uncle Harry usually hides the afikomen – a piece of matzah broken in half and placed in a napkin, then hidden for kids to find – at her family’s Passover Seder. But this year, she decides she will hide it. She adds a twist – a scavenger hunt. Each of the clues she creates contains a riddle relating to the holiday; when each riddle is solved, she hands out a puzzle piece. The first clue reads “Karpas is parsley, fresh and green./Find Clue Number Two/Where green is the scene.” Her relatives search for the clues, until they find the sixth one and can assemble the puzzle pieces, which form a Seder plate. Images of a close-knit extended family, with smiling youngsters and playful adult-child interactions, impart a joyous atmosphere.

“Everybunny Dance!” by Ellie Sandall

The bunnies in this book just want to boogie. They’re different sizes – from small to large, slight to chubby. They’re a range of colors; some have red, yellow or brown spots, and some are mostly gray, tan or orange. But they all whoop it up, together, celebrating creative expression and friendship. The story begins: “Nobody is watching./Now’s the perfect chance./Ready bunny,/steady bunny,/ Everybunny dance!” From there, they dance, play musical instruments and sing – until they spy a fox. Is he friend or foe? Little ones will relish finding out what the fox has in mind and how the bunnies react in this surprising and uplifting story. They’ll also be inspired to twist, twirl and wiggle along with the charming characters.

“Otter Loves Easter,” by Sam Garton

A lovable otter narrates his day, which starts on Easter morning. He can barely contain his excitement when he sees all the candy left by the Easter Bunny. He discovers “4 medium-size eggs/1 bag of jelly beans/1 bag of small eggs/3 big eggs/1 pair of bunny ears/12 small eggs in a basket/1 gold bunny.” His adult, however, tells him he must share. This doesn’t sit well with Otter: “But sharing is very hard./Because eating chocolate is very easy.” After he eats all the candy, he feels bad that his friends didn’t get any. Using the pink bunny ears, he transforms himself into “the Easter Otter!” He sets up an egg hunt, and afterward, his friends show him an unexpected kindness. Cute, colorful digital illustrations enrich the gentle story.

“Sammy Spider’s Passover Shapes,” by Sylvia A. Rouss; illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn

A family prepares for Passover in this brightly illustrated board book. Sammy Spider watches the family and makes his own preparations, matching shapes to holiday elements. “He spins a square web that looks like a piece of matzah./He spins a round web that looks like a seder plate.” Words relating to the holiday are highlighted in blue, making them stand out from the mostly black text. The compact tale introduces kids to Passover traditions in an engaging way.

“How It’s Made: Matzah,” by Allison Ofanansky; photographs by Eliyahu Alpern

This book explains all about matzah, one of the foods traditionally featured at a Passover Seder table. In addition to describing how matzah is made, the book contains lesser-known facts, such as that kosher rules say it must be made in 18 minutes to ensure the dough doesn’t rise. Clear pictures and conversational, concise text make the information easy to comprehend. Kids of all ages will enjoy learning more about this holiday staple and may be inspired to follow the recipe included at the back of the book to make their own matzah.

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