This appealing concoction is a powerful reminder of the good one person can do.

READ REVIEW

GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!

HOW A GERMAN BAKER HELPED WIN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Rockliff and Kirsch introduce a lesser-known figure who demonstrated patriotic fire by baking bread for the Continental Army.

It is fitting that throughout the tale our hero is simply called the baker—curious youngsters only learn his name, Christopher Ludwick, in the closing author’s note. Brisk, playful text sketches Ludwick’s life and cheerful, generous nature. Although too “old and fat” to fight, when he learns the troops are hungry, “[t]he baker roll[s] up his sleeves. ‘No empty bellies here,’ he [tells] General Washington. ‘Not in my America!’ ” This is his refrain, and it is clear that this German immigrant, a gingerbread baker by trade, believes in liberty and opportunity. In fact, he volunteers to share this information with the foreign soldiers who arrive on our shores. Children must infer they are Hessians, a detail later confirmed in the author’s note. Bright watercolor illustrations resemble decorated gingerbread and burst across the double-page spreads as if barely able to contain this spirited patriot and his enormous contribution. The author’s note provides more information about Ludwick’s life and philanthropic efforts.

This appealing concoction is a powerful reminder of the good one person can do. (sources, recipe) (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-13001-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Utterly compelling.

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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