Creatively imagined and artistically rendered, this picture book tells the simple story of a family of whole, sliced, and segmented fruits and vegetables who lives in a very small house constructed of matzah.
Kitzel the cat, who narrates the story, is made entirely out of an orange. His head and body are each half an orange, while his mouth and feet are orange segments. The mother is a veritable salad of parts: her head is an onion with onion-skin hair; her mouth and body are vivid red peppers; and her arms and legs are carrots. Two pieces of parsley serve as eyelashes and eyebrows. Other family members are similarly tasty and amusingly named: Avo, the avocado brother; Celeria, the stalky sister who is flexible enough for gymnastics; and a whole pantry full of innovative, crunchy others.
It is almost Pesach. After disinviting some chametz friends personified by a bagel, a piece of cake, a roll, a donut, and a challah, the family worries whether they will have enough space in their teeny tiny matzah house to conduct a seder. Family and friends arrive in a variety of edible conveyances, including a carrot airplane, a cheese helicopter, and a floating hot-air watermelon. Some friends join remotely via a computer screen framed in celery. The seder proceeds deliciously with traditional, joyful retellings, songs, and, of course, afikomen-hunting. As in the traditional Jewish folktale, retold in many versions, the previously crowded house feels spacious when the guests have departed.
The story is simple, but the art is ingenious. Directions for making a cat out of an orange are included — a fun, Passover-friendly project sure to engage parents and children who are looking for an unusual and innovative kitchen activity to work on together.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.