The Longest Night, a Passover Story by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Catia Chien, Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013
The author wondered, too. She wrote this book for the curious girl she was. When her family honored the tradition of reading Exodus every year at Passover, she wondered about the real people in the story. Who were they? What did their families do on ordinary days? What did the children do?
A young slave girl tells this story, and her ordinary day begins “in the heat and blowing sand.”
Children do not play. They must work.
Then the world changed. “Life unraveled, rearranged.” Plagues arrived. Exodus tells us about the leaders and rulers and how this impacted them. This author lets us feel the impact on the families in the streets.
Parents and grandparents waited. The young main character wondered, worried, but didn’t ask. She just watched.
The night her father marked the doorpost with blood was a night filled with terrible cries of anguish. Everyone rushed into the square. They gathered their belongings and ran. “Running from, but also to.”
The illustrator carries the reader from the silence of a grey and grim setting, punctuated with hopeful skies and free-flying birds, grants a reason to look up into a world that turns brown with the prospects of greater hunger and more wounded lives. Swirling blues of a mighty Red Sea roll to surprising bursts of color as the people celebrate their escape and a grand arrival where, “As we found in open air—All our voices, everywhere.”
Together, the writer and illustrator have created an imaginative treatment of this majestic event.
For your child or your inner child, whether your family observes Passover or not, here is a book for all who enter this season…and wonder.