One minute, twins Scarlett and Sam are bickering about who's going to read the Four Questions at the Passover seder. The next minute, they've been swept up by Grandma Mina's time-traveling carpet and dumped in the ancient Egyptian desert! And as if being stranded 3,000 years in the past isn't bad enough, they also find their fellow Hebrews suffering in slavery. So they team up with Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help free the slaves. The future's looking bright! But the story they know so well doesn’t turn out the way they expected...
"Twins Scarlett and Sam are quarreling while their parents and grandmother are getting ready for the Pesach seder. Their quarrel leads to a trip on their grandmother's magic carpet that transports them back in time to ancient Egypt. Although they are still in their modern garb they are mistaken for Hebrews of the time and are taken into slavery. After a harrowing experience, they escape and become part of Moses and Aaron's entourage as they request and then demand that Pharaoh lets the Hebrews leave. The storyline remains quite true to the Biblical text with some midrashim incorporated in order to enhance the story. An extra wrench is thrown into the story when Scarlett and Sam befriend Pharaoh's oldest son. Kimmel incorporates sibling rivalry between Pharaoh and Moses, time-travel references including quotes from television shows and podcast narratives, and premonitions as Sam and Scarlett are familiar with the Torah story. This book can serve as a discussion starter for parsha discussions or the Pesach seder at school or at home.
Stevanovic's sketches enhance the story providing visuals of Aaron, Moses, Sam, Scarlett, and other key characters." -- Jewish Book World—Magazine
"While arguing over their role in a Passover Seder, twins Sam and Scarlett are whisked away to ancient Egypt on grandmother's magic carpet.There, they are enslaved along with the other Jews, and they encounter Moses and Aaron, who involve them in negotiations with Pharaoh to free the slaves. Moses and Pharaoh, who is portrayed as a whining, jealous despot, argue constantly, calling each other childish names. The children witness the devastation of the 10 plagues, triggered when Pharaoh reneges on promises to let the Jews leave Egypt. The 10th plague kills his son Seti, whom the twins have come to admire. They witness the parting of the Red Sea and the bittersweet rejoicing that follows. They return home ready to embrace and share the ritual of the Seder and with a greater respect for their heritage. Kimmel keeps the story flowing at a rapid pace, employing 21st-century tone and syntax for the twins as well as the ancients with whom they interact. Although traditionalists may disapprove of this approach, it's accessible for modern young readers of all religions and makes it possible for them to gain a modicum of understanding of this distant, biblical past. Stevanovic's grayscale illustrations also capture the ancient events with a decidedly contemporary manga flavor. Lively and thought-provoking. (historical note)" -- Kirkus Reviews—Journal
"Scarlett and Sam: Escape From Egypt, by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Ivica Stenanovic. (Kar-Ben, 2015) is a Passover-themed book that seems to be the first to fill a much-needed niche in Jewish children's literature: the early chapter book for second- and third-grade readers.
These children have surely read many volumes of the wildly popular series by Mary Pope Osborne called 'The Magic Treehouse,' so they are familiar with the 'adventurous time-traveling children' plot device. The 'Magic Treehouse' children have spent many afternoons in their treehouse pointing to pictures in books and suddenly being whisked off to exciting places, such as the Amazon rain forest or the land of the dinosaurs. In what is clearly a nod at this genre for Jewish children, twins Scarlett and Sam take an unexpected ride on Grandma Mina's magic carpet (she brought it with her when she emigrated from Iran), and end up in the Egyptian desert watching Hebrew slaves working to build the Pyramids. They manage to team up with Moses, Aaron and Miriam to help free their people, but the story becomes much more complicated than the familiar one they know from the yearly Passover Seder. It's nice to see a publisher take a chance on a Jewish-themed adventure book for this grade level, and this one would make an appropriate Passover gift for eager readers who have graduated from the 'Magic Treehouse series.' Let's hope for a continued series - Scarlett and Sam could have many more adventures in Jewish history awaiting them." -- Jewish Journal—Magazine
"Magical realism and Jewish history merge in this exciting adventure in which twins Scarlett and Sam travel back in time to Egypt to help Moses convince Pharaoh to free the slaves. Simple language makes it easy for kids to absorb the story, and the two unique main characters deliver witty remarks. Energy, suspense, and Jewish scholarship sweep Scarlett and Sam off their feet, literally, and into a world of peril and delight. Ages seven and up." -- Foreword Reviews—Website
Eric A. Kimmel has been writing for children for more than 40 years. His more than 100 titles include such classics as Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock and The Chanukkah Guest. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Ivica Stevanovic has illustrated numerous picture books, as well as book covers and graphic novels. He lives in Veternik, Serbia, with his wife, who is also a children's illustrator, and their daughter.