Passover–A Story Told in Food

This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to celebrate Passover with the family of a friend of mine–if you have never been to a Passover Seder and get a chance to attend one, do it! The celebration of Passover, an eight day holiday in the Jewish calendar, beings with the Passover Seder, a gathering with family and friends for a meal that involves the retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It is an interactive celebration that is informative, celebratory, somber, and fun.

A Passover Seder Plate

My friend’s lovely Passover Seder Plate!

A central part of this meal and storytelling is the Passover Seder Plate, a plate adorned with food items that symbolize various parts of the story of the Israelites flight from Egypt. Each of the items represents a sympolic piece of the story, from the maror, or bitter herbs, that represent the bitterness and harshness of slavery, to the charoset, a sweet, brown mixture made of nuts, grated apples, cinnamon, and wine, that symbolizes the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to build the buildings of Egypt.

Food is a key element in the Passover tradition, as the story is told not just in words, but in songs, symbols, flavors, and smells. While many holidays have traditional foods, Passover is one of the few I have experienced that uses food to connect with the history of the holiday so directly. Additionally, while the actual meal served on Passover may vary from home to home, the Passover Seder Plate is virtually the same in every Jewish household, connecting the celebrations of families across the globe with a unifying tradition.

If you are interested in learning more about Passover, or teaching a young person in your life about the traditions of this food-centric holiday, there are some great books available in the Wheelock Library that can help.

Hooray! It’s Passover! is a great first introduction to the traditions of the Passover holiday, and is a great way to get young readers excited about this eight day celebration.

Why on This Night? is a haggadah, the text that establishes the order of the Passover Seder. This family friendly haggadah uses stories, songs, poems, activities, and explanations to guide kids through the traditions of Passover Seder.

Around the Passover Table is an e-cookbook that gives you over 75 recipes for the Passover holiday–happy cooking! And Happy Passover!

Worth a Thousand Words

Some people might think that a wordless picturebook is for less sophisticated readers—a “baby book” that tells a story so simple it doesn’t even need words.

But we know better!

Wordless picturebooks are akin to short, silent (very slow motion) films. They inspire a deep investment from the reader, since after all, it is the reader who creates the story from the images. Far from presenting insubstantial fluff, these books often illustrate stories that could not be as profound if told in words.

And the illustrations are glorious! A feast for the eye, wordless picturebooks communicate through color, depth, frames, character body language, and other visual details that readers might gloss over if text were present. And some new detail always appears in the images each time the book is read.

So let’s look at some! Below are three wordless picturebooks and a few of their illustrations that can be found in Wheelock Library’s collection on 2M and in other FLO libraries. Rather than tell you what happens in the books, let’s let the images speak for themselves.

Journey by Aaron Becker (J-P B383j)

journey 1 journey 2


The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (J-P P648L)

 lion mouse 1 lion mouse 2 lion mouse 3


Flotsam by David Wiesner (J-P W6365FL)

flotsam 1 flotsam 2

flotsam 3

More great wordless picturebooks to try:

 Sector 7 by David Wiesner (J-P W63s)

Bluebird by Bob Staake (J-P St329b)

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (J-P Id54f)

The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (J-P L525r)

Mirror by Jeannie Baker

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole (J-P C64u)

Wave by Suzy Lee

Confused by citations?

At the library, we provide tools to help you make sense of citations. Check out our guide to citation and writing for reputable information on creating and understanding citations in APA, MLA, or Chicago style. Or check out our YouTube playlist on using citations to find more sources for your papers.

Have specific questions? Stop by the library front desk during our drop-in hours, or email us at We’d be happy to help you find more sources from citations, or to figure out how to cite the sources you used in your paper.

Then + Now: Wheelock College – A Bright Idea in 1967

IMG_7100aSign reads: Wheelock College Activities Building. Boston’s first all-electric college building by Boston Edison Co.

Looks like Wheelock has always been a leader in technology and innovation!

Stepping into an Illustration

Some children’s books deserve to be displayed, not only in the children’s room of the library, but also in the art gallery. Along a Long Road by Frank Viva (J-P V83a) is such a book. Viva, whose illustrations have appeared on the cover of the New Yorker, made an impression with this, his debut children’s book. The narrative is sparse, but the pages fill with the playful roundness of the words he chooses. Even the title “along a long road” rings with a sing-song sound that comes out differently each time you say it.

along a long road 3

Sticking to a retro palette of primary colors, black, and white, Viva’s illustrations are stark. Yet each page rewards the careful observer with figures and scenes that invite stories yet to be imagined. Viva’s artistic method is also intriguing. According to the publisher, Along a Long Road “was created as a single, continuous thirty-five foot long piece of art.” One imagines that viewing the book in this way, as one continuous road, would be truly impressive. Would you be tempted to step into the road, hop on your bicycle, and pedal away? I would.

Check it out! Also check out Viva’s other children’s books, including A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse and A Long Way Away.