The PassOver Guest
Written by Susan Kusel, Illustrated by Sean Rubin
Adapted from The Magician by I.L Peretz
Signed copies available from my home bookstore: One More Page Books.
Size: 8-1/2 x 11 | USD: $18.99
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
★ “This reimagined American setting during the Great Depression and its message of community and faith will resonate with readers. Rubin’s line-and-color art beautifully conveys a Washington, D.C., spring with cherry blossoms blooming, crowded streets that also evoke a long-ago, slightly off-kilter European town, and a gloriously bright holiday evening. … Kindness is rewarded and a holiday is celebrated in this endearing, satisfying story.”—Kirkus, Starred Review – Full review here.
★ “Filled with references to the holiday and accompanying traditions, this is a superb addition to modern celebrations. People of various races appear in the background even as the story focuses on a Jewish neighborhood. Abundant details—taking viewers from shtetl to the Capitol, for example—fill every page, enhancing the story’s emotions through color and texture. . . . Kusel’s charming debut is a necessary volume for every holiday collection.”—School Library Journal, Starred Review – Full review here.
★ “Told simply, but with great feeling, this story also spotlights DC itself: the Washington and Lincoln Monuments, the White House, and the Tidal Basin with its cherry trees in peak bloom. Rubin’s digitally enhanced graphite illustrations are rendered in the style of Chagall in terms of color (blues and greens, accented in yellow), lighting, windows, and even a few chickens. . . . Among the many Passover titles, this one stands out, full of hope and heart and set in a historical context that will resonate today.”—Booklist, Starred Review – Full review here.
“A stunning new picture book made me gasp over the beauty of Washington and linger over the pages… From the cherry blossoms in bloom to scenes of the Washington Monument, the White House and the Capitol building, this book is a gorgeous celebration of the Passover holiday, as well as the vibrant Jewish community that has long made the D.C. region their home.” — Hena Khan, The Washington Post – Full article here.
The Passover Guest was featured in Children’s Books: Treats for Easter and Passover – Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Wall Street Journal – Full article here.
“While there have been several adaptations of Peretz’s tale (e.g., Shulevitz’s The Magician), this version’s message of hope during dark times feels especially relevant now, and the young protagonist and vividly depicted setting makes the story accessible to picture-book audiences.” – The Horn Book Magazine
“With its warm, forthright narrative and beautifully evoked setting, this book is an enchanting addition to the Passover shelf. ” – Publishers Weekly – Full review here.
“Susan Kusel and Sean Rubin’s reinterpretation of I. L. Peretz’s classic story “Der Kunzen-Macher” — about poverty, faith, and a surprise visit by the Prophet Elijah — retains the original’s message about faith and Jewish survival.” – Emily Schneider, Jewish Book Council – full review here.
“Kusel’s adaptation preserves the wonder of a holiday that always captivates children who yearn to lay eyes on Elijah or at least witness a sign that he has indeed visited during their Passover Seder. . . . Recognizable national landmarks ground us in the real world while the rich Chagall-inspired illustrations convey a mysterious, magical quality perfectly suited to this fantasy. From the springtime cherry blossoms depicted in the beginning to the sumptuous Passover spread at the end, this is a wonderful story about hope.” — Association of Jewish Libraries News and Reviews
“The colorful, detailed imagery … merge Jewish and American history, making The Passover Guest not just an Elijah fable but also a story of hope and faith.” Leah F. Finkelshteyn, Hadassah Magazine – Full review here.
“Kids will find themselves returning again and again to the story of Muriel, her loving but poverty-stricken family, and the miracle wrought by the Passover Guest. It’s a message of hope, community and solidarity that they will never forget.” – Bridget Hodder, The Sydney Taylor Shmooze – Full review here.
“This book, The Passover Guest written by Susan Kusel with illustrations by Sean Rubin, is a gift to all readers regardless of their beliefs. It is a tribute to those who observe this holiday and for those who do not it provides understanding. I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.” – Margaret M. Myers-Culver, Librarian’s Quest – Full review here.
“As families face both a deadly pandemic and its economic fallout, this picture book for a new generation shows the importance of kindness even when one is struggling. Lively illustrations blend the realistic Depression setting and the quirky, surrealistic images of Jewish artists such as Marc Chagall.” Lyn Miller-Lachmann, The Historical Novel Society – Full review here.
“Author Susan Kusel has placed the action of “The Passover Guest” during the Great Depression in Washington, D.C. Illustrator Sean Rubin has brought history to life in his marvelously detailed illustrations of springtime in the city, including the cherry blossoms and the magnificent architecture of the buildings.” Lisa Silverman, Jewish Journal – Full review here.
Awards and Honors
Chosen as a Spring 2021 Holiday Highlight by AJL – “Readers needn’t be familiar with the original I.L. Peretz story, “The Magician”, to be wowed by this fresh retelling, set in depression-era Washington DC. Illustrator Sean Rubin’s incredibly detailed depictions of the Capital city in springtime perfectly complement Kusel’s tale of poor Muriel, whose bare table magically overflows with a Passover feast after her encounter with a juggler who may… or may not… be the prophet Elijah.