In Our Tee­ny Tiny Matzah House

  • Review
By – April 11, 2022

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.

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