The Passover Mouse by Joy Nelkin Wieder and Shahar Kober

Happy, happy, happy book birthday to Joy Nelkin Wieder and Shahar Kober's The Passover Mouse. Joy dropped by to share The Passover Mouse's book trailer and to finish my sentences.  I wrote the words in purple, and she wrote the words in black. Thank you, Joy! 

The Passover Mouse’s book trailer is a fun and lively preview of the book. The soundtrack features Klezmer style music that starts slowly and quietly but builds to a fast pace, just like the peaceful morning before the start of Passover when all the villagers have swept their homes clean of leavened bread, in keeping with the traditions of the holiday–when suddenly, a small mouse steals a piece of bread and tears through the town, spoiling everyone’s hard work. The townsfolk aren’t sure if they will be ready in time for their Seders after all the chaos!
The talent behind the creation of the book trailer was all in the family–my son-in-law, Zach Hinden, who is a professional video editor, and my son, Seth Wieder, who is an UX Engineer, worked together to create the adorable animation of the mouse. Then they pieced together the images, soundtrack, and text with professional equipment to produce this delightful video. Warning–you’ll be humming the catchy tune long after the trailer is over!

Rivka is a lonely widow with no one to help her with all her Passover preparations. She cries, “A mouse! A mouse! Took bread out of my house!” and turns red as borscht when the mouse runs into her neighbors’ homes. She is grateful when everyone pitches in to help her rectify the trouble caused by the mouse which unwittingly brings everyone together to save the holiday. In gratitude for bringing friends to her Seder table, Rivka leaves a special “thank you” for the little rodent!

Shahar Kober’s illustrations perfectly capture all the characters in the quiet, little village–both people and animals! From the mortified Rivka to the endearing white mouse, Shahar’s illustrations create relatable characters that bring the story to life. His color palette sets the scene for the old-world shtetl, a small Jewish town in eastern Europe. His attention to detail, such as the shoes and tools in the cobbler’s house, create a feast for the eyes for readers of all ages.

The Talmud is a collection of Jewish laws with commentaries by ancient rabbis and the source of inspiration for this story. I stumbled across an interesting passage of Talmud while doing research for another book I was writing set in ancient Jerusalem. In the tractate discussing all the laws and rituals of Passover, I read a discussion by the rabbis about the possibility of a mouse bringing bread into a house that had already been searched for chometz, or leavened food. They wondered if the house would have to be searched again and came up with several scenarios–what if a mouse with a piece of bread went into a house, but a different mouse came out of the house carrying a piece of bread? Is the second mouse carrying the same piece of bread or a different piece? The rabbis went around and around the issue, but in the end, they never made a decision. I was in shock! How could the rabbis take so much time to discuss an issue and then leave the question unanswered? I knew I had to come up with an answer and finally solve the ancient conundrum.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if this story ever won any awards. In fact, it won two different awards before it was even published! It won Best Picture Book Text for unpublished Jewish stories in 2004, but it didn’t find a home at that time. It wasn’t until it won Honorable Mention in the SCBWI/PJ Library Jewish Stories Award in 2018 that it got traction, and now it will be published by Doubleday Books for Young Readers on January 28, 2020 in hardcover as well as a paperback edition for PJ Library with fun activities and further connections to the Passover holiday!

Borrow The Passover Mouse from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops. 

JOY NELKIN WIEDER is the author of over 30 books for children. She is also an illustrator, and her work has been exhibited in libraries and synagogues around the greater Boston area. She is a frequent school and library visitor and runs children’s writing sessions on historical fiction, oral history, and Jewish children’s books, highlighting Shabbat, family, and ancient Israel. Learn more about her work at

SHAHAR KOBER is a prolific children’s book illustrator whose work has been published worldwide. He was the recipient of a Sydney Taylor Honor Award in 2009 for Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride. He lives in a small town in Israel, where he also works as an art director and illustration teacher. See more of his work at and follow him on Facebook and Instagram at @shaharkober.


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