Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

PASSOVER GIVEAWAY: Frogs in the Bed

ShalomLife speaks to Ann Koffsky, the renowned artist and illustrator of the activity book inspired by the beloved Shirley Cohen Steinberg song

By: Daniel Koren

Published: April 9th, 2014 in Culture » Books » News

Passover is almost upon us!

The sacred holiday begins April 14th, and involves more than just spring cleaning. It’s a time to share with family, friends and loved ones, to rejoice as a Jewish people, to regale at our thousands-year-old history. More importantly, it’s a time to share with our children the stories of our ancestors, to sing, to pray, and to remember and pay respects to our heritage. Though there are several interpretations of the Haggadah, children often relate to what they find interesting, and what’s fun and engaging for them.

And if you’ll recall your own childhood, nothing is more exciting than animation, color, activity books, and, of course, music.

That’s why we at ShalomLife are embarking on a Passover giveaway series for parents looking to engage and teach their children about the Story of Passover. For the next five days, we’ll be featuring a children’s book (and presenting a giveaway) so your kids can learn about their Jewish heritage, and in turn, teach their children, who will in turn, teach their children. The circle of life continues. Make sure to like ShalomLife on Facebook to stay up date.

Though tech-savvy parents certainly have a multitude of options for their kids via whatever gadgets, devices and tablets they own, many of us still appreciate books within the physical realm. Swiping a tablet with your finger on a coloring-book app and seeing the water turn blue may be in high definition, but nothing comes close to the satisfaction of coloring with crayons and markers.

But coloring while singing songs? Even as an adult that sounds exciting.

While many of us relate the music of Passover with ‘Dayenu’ and ‘Ma Nishtana’, there are also popular nursery songs that teach about the Jewish holiday, and the Seder, in its own way. One of the most famous of these songs is “Frogs in the Bed,” a song originated by Canadian Shirley Cohen Steinberg, and transformed into a lively activity book for children by renowned artist and illustrator Ann Koffsky.

“Anyone who has kids likely know ‘Frogs in the Bed’, as they always come home from nursery school singing it,” Koffsky tells me. “It’s such a whimsical lyric, with frogs jumping everywhere, so it intrigued me. The fun part was trying to find the person who wrote the song,” she laughs. That person is one Shirley Cohen Steinberg, an 87-year-old author. “It was quite the hunt, but with the help of a few Jewish organizations, I was able to track her down in Ottawa. She was so nice and generous, and we decided to make a book together.”

But not just any book. Frogs in the Bed is a humorous activity book that helps children learn about the Seder. It’s a combination storybook and activity book, and includes directions for making a sparkly Elijah’s cup, a template for creating your own jumping frog, and sheet music for “One Morning (the Frog Song).”

“One morning when Pharaoh awoke in his bed, there were frogs in his bed, and frogs on his head”

“The book is more than just a song illustrated, which is already fun for kids, but there’s also a whole bunch of activities,” says Koffsky. “There’s activities involving the Seder plate, the Four questions, there are crafts, what to prepare for the Seder, and a nice activity that puts you in the place of an Israelite.” Koffsky explains that this teaches kids to learn from a different perspective, helping to engage them about the Story of Passover.

“It takes the song and illustrates it, plus the whole bunch of activities, so it’s kind of like two books in one,” Koffsky adds. “Kids learn from movement, and from anything that’s fun and not too serious. So it’s really just a great way to engage them.”

And as if that wasn’t engaging enough, Behrman House, the publisher of Frogs in the Bed, is offering a ton of FREE GIVEAWAYS. There’s a free game app for those of you who are teaching your kids to be tech-savvy, download here, free frog image downloads that you can print out and decorate your Seder with, find them here, and a free frogs coloring page.

To purchase Frogs in the Bed, get it via Behrman House, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

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