ONLINE: Susan Kusel & Sean Rubin Passover Storytime

Join us for a virtual Passover Storytime with author Susan Kusel and illustrator Sean Rubin. Susan and Sean will read their picture book THE PASSOVER GUEST, a recipient of the 2022 Sydney Taylor Award for Picture Books. The book follows a young girl who assumes her family is too poor to hold a Passover Seder this year-- but an act of kindness and a mysterious magician change everything! THE PASSOVER GUEST is "Filled with references to the holiday and accompanying traditions, this is a superb addition to modern celebrations" (School Library Journal, Starred Review). Save your spot in the free event below. 

Click here for a free set of THE PASSOVER GUEST activity sheets! Susan Kusel has kindly signed bookplates for customers who order THE PASSOVER GUEST from An Unlikely Story, while supplies last. 

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 Muriel assumes her family is too poor to hold a Passover Seder this year-- but an act of kindness and a mysterious magician change everything.

It's the Spring of 1933 in Washington D.C., and the Great Depression is hitting young Muriel's family hard. Her father has lost his job, and her family barely has enough food most days, let alone for a Passover Seder. They don't even have any wine to leave out for the prophet Elijah's ceremonial cup.

With no feast to rush home to, Muriel wanders by the Lincoln Memorial, where she encounters a mysterious magician in whose hands juggled eggs become lit candles. After she makes a kind gesture, he encourages her to run home for her Seder, and when she does, she encounters a holiday miracle, a bountiful feast of brisket, soup, and matzah.
But who was this mysterious benefactor? When Muriel sees Elijah's ceremonial cup is empty, she has a good idea.

This fresh retelling of the classic I.L. Peretz story, best known through Uri Shulevitz's 1973 adaptation The Magician, has been sumptuously illustrated by noted graphic novelist Sean Rubin, who based his art on photographs of D.C. in the 1930s. An author note with information about the holiday is included.

An Association of Jewish Libraries Spring Holiday Highlight
A CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
Booklist Editors' Choice
A CCBC Choice
A CSMCL Best Multicultural Children's Book of the Year

★ "Filled with references to the holiday and accompanying traditions, this is a superb addition to modern celebrations. . . . Kusel’s charming debut is a necessary volume for every holiday collection."—School Library Journal, Starred Review
★ "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

★ "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 Reviews, Starred Review

"With its warm, forthright narrative and beautifully evoked setting, this book is an enchanting addition to the Passover shelf."—Publishers Weekly
"In the book's stunning mixed-media art, each double-page spread conveys emotion through color and light. . . . 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 make the story accessible to picture-book audiences." —The Horn Book

"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. . . .  this is a wonderful story about hope." — AJL News and Reviews

Susan Kusel is a synagogue librarian and children's book buyer for an independent bookstore. She has served as a member of the Caldecott Medal selection committee and the chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. The Passover Guest is Kusel's first picture book. She lives in Arlington, VA.

Sean Rubin has illustrated several books for children. He wrote and illustrated the graphic novel Bolivar, which was nominated for an Eisner award and is being adapted into a feature film with Fox Studios. He also illustrated The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The Story of Alan Bean by Dean Robbins. Rubin studied art and archeology at Princeton University. He lives in Charleston, VA.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022 - 6:00pm
Event address: 
The Passover Guest By Susan Kusel, Sean Rubin (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Susan Kusel, Sean Rubin (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780823445622
Availability: Available to Order
Published: Neal Porter Books - January 19th, 2021

This Very Tree: A Story of 9/11, Resilience, and Regrowth By Sean Rubin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250788504
Availability: Available to Order
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - May 11th, 2021

Bolivar  By Sean Rubin Cover Image
Unavailable at this time
ISBN: 9781684155927
Published: Archaia - October 13th, 2020

The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon: The True Story of Alan Bean By Dean Robbins, Sean Rubin (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Dean Robbins, Sean Rubin (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781338259537
Availability: Available to Order
Published: Orchard Books - May 28th, 2019