A parrot offers dubious help during preparations for the Passover Seder.
Lily, who lives in a Brooklyn brownstone, is the narrator for her story about the spring Jewish festival. When her next-door neighbor gifts Lily with a parrot, Mama is not happy. She is busy cleaning the house of “all the hametz, the leavened foods,” which are not eaten on Passover. The parrot soon acquires a name: Hametz. Meanwhile, Lily decides to practice asking the ceremonial four questions in Hebrew, a role in the Passover Seder traditionally given to the youngest child. The only one in the house who will listen to her practice is the parrot—who, of course, repeats every word he hears. Finally, the big night arrives, the family assembles, and Papa begins. The afikomen is hidden, and Lily begins the questions. And so does the parrot, who is banished from the dining room. Alas, when the time comes, the children cannot find the afikomen—or Hametz. But everything ends well for the family, and they (and the parrot) are ready for the second night’s Seder. Zusman’s tale is mildly amusing, particularly for those children who have practiced the four questions; there are no background notes. Brooker’s art is colorfully nostalgic, depicting a mid-20th-century Brooklyn and a pale-skinned Jewish family.
It’s a cute-enough story, but it’s unlikely to have much staying power. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)