This Passover Story May Be the First Jewish Children's Book With a Nonbinary Protagonist – Kveller
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This Passover Story May Be the First Jewish Children’s Book With a Nonbinary Protagonist

"Frankenstein's Matzah" tells the delightful story of ab Jewish scientist named Vee.


via Intergalactic Afikoman

So many delightful Jewish children’s books with LGBTQ+ representation are hitting the shelves this year, including Leslea Newman’s  upcoming “Joyful Song”.

One such book, which came out in January, is “Frankenstein’s Matzah,” a book that combines Passover traditions with science experiments and Mary Shelley love, and that is helmed by a curious, nonbinary scientist named Vee.

According to its publisher, it’s the first Jewish children’s book to feature a nonbinary protagonist. Vee uses they/them pronouns, but the most important part of their identity in this book is their love for science. In a page that introduces us to the Jewish Frankenstein family, we are told that Vee “aspires to be the world’s greatest Nobel Prize winning Jewish non-binary scientist.”

“Incidental representation is so important in books so readers are able to see themselves in the pages and readers are able to see characters who may be different from them,” author K. Marcus told Kveller over e-mail. “As Emily Style said (and I’m paraphrasing) books are ‘windows and mirrors’ where readers can see others and see themselves.”

This charming book, with colorful digital comic book style illustrations by Sam Loman, is a parody of the Frankenstein story. Instead of a human-like creature, young Vee tries to bring a piece of matzah to life. Spoiler alert: They succeed!

Marcus says she was inspired to incorporate the Frankenstein story into her book after listening to an NYPL podcast about how Frankenstein has become a part of popular culture. She loved paying tribute to what is considered the first science fiction story.  She wants readers to learn about how important it is to keep trying — when conducting science experiments and beyond (Vee tried their matzah experiment 1817 times before it worked!). She hopes that the book helps portray how “amazing and thoughtful” Judaism is.

This book is funny, silly and full of family love. Vee gets a lot of love from their mother and grandfather, and is a great big sibling to brother Jax. “Frankenstein’s Matzah” also features some great ideas for incorporating science into your own family’s Passover experience. At the seder table, Vee conducts two topical experiments — one that incorporates the eggs from the seder plate, and another that alludes to the parting of the Red Sea — and shares how you can do the same at home, at the seder table and beyond. The book also helps children learn basic facts about the scientific method. The text is peppered with Yiddish and Hebrew words, and Passover traditions, too. Yet despite being a trove of information, it’s more fun than didactic.

Even if they can’t bring a matzah to life, kids are sure to be delighted by the story of Vee and Manny the matzah.

Buy “Frankenstein’s Matzah” on Amazon / Target / Bookshop / Intergalactic Afikoman

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