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In Our Teeny Tiny Matzah House

Fun food art illustrates the classic folktale of the crowded house, told from the family cat's point of view at Passover. A Bank Street College BEST CHILDREN'S BOOK-2023 Edition
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I live in a teeny tiny matzah house.

It is so crowded and noisy in here that I can't hear myself meow.

Where will we put all our guests for the Passover seder?

A cat made of oranges and its veggie family is wondering how they will be able to fit all the Passover guests into their teeny tiny matzah house for the seder.

The classic Jewish folktale of the too-crowded house has never been so delicious! 

Includes step-by-step directions for making your own food art.

About the Authors

Bill Wurtzel is an artist and jazz musician, so improvisation, even with food, comes naturally to him. He began making food art to amuzse his wife, Claire, when they were first married and has never stopped.

Claire Wurtzel is the co-educational director of Hidden Sparks. She has loved food art ever since she was a child, when her mother would shape challah dough into little birds or funny objects.

Bill and Claire collaborated on Meshuggah Food Faces and other books of food art. They live in New York City.


Cre­ative­ly imag­ined and artis­ti­cal­ly ren­dered, this pic­ture book tells the sim­ple sto­ry of a fam­i­ly of whole, sliced, and seg­ment­ed fruits and veg­eta­bles who lives in a very small house con­struct­ed of matzah.

Kitzel the cat, who nar­rates the sto­ry, is made entire­ly out of an orange. His head and body are each half an orange, while his mouth and feet are orange seg­ments. The moth­er is a ver­i­ta­ble sal­ad of parts: her head is an onion with onion-skin hair; her mouth and body are vivid red pep­pers; and her arms and legs are car­rots. Two pieces of pars­ley serve as eye­lash­es and eye­brows. Oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers are sim­i­lar­ly tasty and amus­ing­ly named: Avo, the avo­ca­do broth­er; Cele­ria, the stalky sis­ter who is flex­i­ble enough for gym­nas­tics; and a whole pantry full of inno­v­a­tive, crunchy others.

It is almost Pesach. After dis­invit­ing some chametz friends per­son­i­fied by a bagel, a piece of cake, a roll, a donut, and a chal­lah, the fam­i­ly wor­ries whether they will have enough space in their tee­ny tiny matzah house to con­duct a seder. Fam­i­ly and friends arrive in a vari­ety of edi­ble con­veyances, includ­ing a car­rot air­plane, a cheese heli­copter, and a float­ing hot-air water­mel­on. Some friends join remote­ly via a com­put­er screen framed in cel­ery. The seder pro­ceeds deli­cious­ly with tra­di­tion­al, joy­ful retellings, songs, and, of course, afikomen-hunt­ing. As in the tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish folk­tale, retold in many ver­sions, the pre­vi­ous­ly crowd­ed house feels spa­cious when the guests have departed.

The sto­ry is sim­ple, but the art is inge­nious. Direc­tions for mak­ing a cat out of an orange are includ­ed — a fun, Passover-friend­ly project sure to engage par­ents and chil­dren who are look­ing for an unusu­al and inno­v­a­tive kitchen activ­i­ty to work on together.

--Michal Malen, The Jewish Book Council


Told from the perspective of the house cat Kitzel, Bill and Claire Wurtzel’s In Our Teeny Tiny Matzah House is about a family who lives in a crowded teeny tiny matzah house and needs to prepare for Passover and the seder. The illustrations use photographs of ordinary foods (such as oranges, cottage cheese, celery, peppers, cantaloupe, avocado, strawberries, bananas, carrots and more) in extraordinary ways giving rise to expressions on the characters' faces that are simply remarkable. Favorites of this reviewer included the Statue of Liberty with broccoli torch, Souperman with a matzah ball nose, Mat Zahbrei, Cantor Loupe and Flankenella. Back matter includes step-by-step instructions to make Kitzel.

The story mentions many elements of Passover and the seder including ridding the house of bread (watch that donut with wafer hair walk away!), asking the Four Questions, listing the ten plagues, searching for the afikomen, singing Dayeinu, and of course, having guests to celebrate it all with, whether in person or remotely. But in addition to being a fun-to-read book, the magic of the storyline is brought out through the uniqueness of the food art illustrations. As such, readers may enjoy this book long after Passover has ended by trying to replicate the many characters within and coming up with their own original creations. Overall, an excellent addition to bookshelves for children of all ages and faiths that stimulates imagination, creativity and viewing art through an entirely different lens.

--Freidele Galya Soban Binaishvili, Sydney Taylor Schmooze