Last June, I wrote a mentor text author study featuring poet, author, and activist Lesléa Newman. At the end of that post was the cover of what was to be her forthcoming book, Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail, illustrated by Susan Gal. Since my library is closed because of the pandemic, I do not have access to a body of work from another author to feature this month. So I looked at what makes Newman’s latest work worthy of study.
Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale with a Tail uses a poetic parallel sentence structure to tell the story of a boy and a kitten. Inside, a young boy takes part in a Seder, outside a stray kitten follows a similar ritual.
Early on Newman engages playful language using the homophone tale and tail in the title. The alternating couplets create a sense of connectedness between the parallel story lines.
Inside, candles glowed.
Outside, stars twinkled.
Inside, the boy drank grape juice.
Outside, the kitten lapped at a puddle.
POINT OF VIEW
Using a Seder as the setting allows Newman to show how a family celebrates Passover. Two stories unfold through the point of view of a young boy and a stray kitten. Inside, children follow the boy and experience what happens during a Seder. Outside that same night children witness the kitten as it mirrors the boy's actions in its own way. And in the ending, when the characters and story interconnect, it is welcoming.
The story is sweet and endearing and the artwork represents a festive night inside in comparison and contrast to the mood and atmosphere outside.