Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
During Passover, Jews are reminded of how, more than three thousand years ago, their ancestors emerged from slavery to become free men and women. Bestselling author Monique Polak explores her own Jewish roots as she tells the Passover story, which reminds us that the freedom to be who we are and practice our religion, whatever it may be, is a great gift. It also teaches us that if we summon our courage and look out for each other, we can endure and overcome the most challenging circumstances. Enlivened by personal stories, Passover reminds us that we can all endure and overcome the most challenging circumstances.
Passover is the first in a series of books called Orca Origins that will examine ancient traditions kept alive in the modern world. Other books in the series will cover Ramadan, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
About the author
MONIQUE POLAK is the author of 26 novels for young readers, as well as two non-fiction titles and a board book. Her books Hate Mail, Room for One More, and the historical novel What World is Left, which was inspired by her mother’s experience during the Holocaust, were all winners of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and YA Literature.
Her books have also been nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the Arthur Ellis Award, and several have been selected as Best Books for Children and Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.
She is also a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Macleans, and Postmedia newspapers across the country, and is a columnist on ICI Radio-Canada’s Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! Monique lives in Montreal, Quebec, where she teaches English and Humanities at Marianopolis College.
- Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens
"A must-have title, whether readers are already knowledgeable about the holiday's history and rituals or learning about them for the first time...Highly recommended for all ages."
Jewish Book Council
"The author does a thorough job of describing the origins of Passover, the intricacies of the seder, and the importance of this event to Jews around the world. She makes it all accessible to middle-grade readers, regardless of their ethnicity, by including the stories of specific individuals (including a couple of elderly Montrealers who survived the Holocaust), focusing on the participation of children in the seder, and including some simple recipes. The result is a lively read, illustrated with many photos."
The Montreal Gazette
"A fascinating look into the celebration of the Passover holiday...Insightful."
Tri State Young Adult Book Review
"Each chapter is detailed with an abundance of information...Personal stories of Holocaust survivors, Ben and Liselotte, add to the appeal and authenticity of this title...A helpful glossary, and a list of references and resources are also included. Passover is the first in a series of books in the 'Orca Origins' series which will examine 'ancient traditions kept alive in the modern world.'"
"While this title in the Orca Origins series explains the holiday of Passover, it also goes further. In the introduction, Polak remembers her associations with the holiday while growing up in Montreal, mostly through friends’ seders...The sections in which the Holocaust survivors remember is both chilling and moving...Kids’ holiday rituals and personal stories make for an interesting mix. Illustrated with many color photos, this unique take on an ancient holiday should resonate with readers."
"The book is written in a very readable text accompanied by black and white and colour historical and contemporary captioned photographs...A great complement to a study of religious customs and multiculturalism...Highly recommend[ed]."
"Poignant...A glossary as well as an excellent reference and resource guide round out the book."
"With her convivial, chatty writing style, the material is easily absorbed, and the richness of the culture and festival shine through. Facts are augmented and enriched by the narratives of many participants...Undoubtedly, the book will encourage much discussion and sharing of religious traditions and will be a welcome and highly readable addition to various library collections."
Canadian Children's Booknews
"Learn about Passover in this informative nonfiction book...recommended."
School Library Connection
"An overview of the holiday of Passover is elaborated with personal narratives, the story's connection to the Holocaust, and various Seder customs practiced in several countries around the world...A plethora of photographs, informational sidebars, drawings, and recipes break up the substantial yet enlightening text. Good supplementary material to increase the holiday's meaning and currency for older children."
"With numerous sidebars, photographs, recipes, drawings and short facts, the book...is bound to teach youngsters and adults alike how important it is to celebrate the holiday in their own way."
The Canadian Jewish News
Passover (Festival of Freedom)During Passover, Jews are reminded of how, more than three thousand years ago, their ancestors emerged from slavery to become free men and women. Bestselling author Monique Polak explores her own Jewish roots as she tells the Passover story, which reminds us that the freedom to be who we are and practice our religion, whatever it may be, is a great gift.
A nonfiction text that interweaves images, stories and facts in a comprehensive format that is easily accessible for middle school students and teachers. Clear features of text are used to organize the book suitable for teaching about religious customs. The book is well organized and will help readers formulate a global understanding of Passover, its history, and the current practices of Jewish families around the world.
Also available: What World Is Left by Monique Polak
Author available for school visits. @monique_polak
Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.