Friday, April 6, 2012

Izzy the Whiz and Passover McClean by Yael Mermelstein with illustrations by Carrie Hartman

Izzy the Whiz loves to invent things. His mother is worried because it's almost Passover and there's still so much to do, but Izzy tells her not to worry: his new invention, Passover McClean, will have the house clean in no time! But Passover McClean doesn't quite work as Izzy was expecting...will he have everything back to normal by the time his mom comes back?

There are two things that I love about this book. One is that it is so deeply immersed in Jewish life and tradition, and the other is that it has the power to reflect anyone's life. The celebration of Pesach and the ritual cleaning of hametz is unique to Jewish people who observe this holiday, and it's wonderful to see a children's picture book that reflects this. At the same time, though, there's a wonderful universal quality about the book. Whether or not someone fully understands what hametz means (I did not) is not needed to enjoy this book. It's about a boy who invents a machine that doesn't work as he planned. It could be anyone's story, but it's specifically Izzy's story, and his story includes Passover and hametz and other aspects of Jewish life. That makes it accessible to all readers and provides the opportunity to learn more about another religion and culture. The illustrations are soft and fanciful, and it's always cool to see a kid who's interested in science (and science experiments). This is a great pick for public libraries looking to diversify their picture book collections; it might end up in a holiday collection, but it's worth checking out at any time of the year.

Yael Mermelstein is the winner of the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award Carrie Hartman has a website and a blog where you can see more of her illustration.

I received a review copy from NetGalley courtesy of Lerner Books / Kar-Ben Publishing.

Find it at IndieBound.

Read it with:
Barnyard Purim by Kelly Terwilliger
Hannah's Way by Linda Glaser
Going on a Hametz Hunt by Jacqueline Jules

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