Cindy and Lynn: ‘Tis the season for gifts, wrapping, sleigh bells, and, of course, gingerbread! We have two new books that feature that wonderfully spicy and delicious treat. So break open the cookie tin, make some hot chocolate, sit back and enjoy.
Cindy: Forget believing in Santa, Marshall doesn’t believe that gingerbread men can run away. Hallie Durand’s clever story, Catch That Cookie (2014), which received a starred Booklist review, is based on her son’s own gingerbread-man school scavenger hunt. Marshall’s class bakes trays of cookies after reading another runaway gingerbread man story. When the class goes to the oven to check on the cookies, they are missing, but they’ve left a clue. Marshall is skeptical of this impromptu scavenger hunt, but when he finds a raisin and a silver ball from his cookie’s decorations along the way, his imagination gets the better of him. The cookies are found safe and sound—also found during the adventure is Marshall’s sense of wonder and, perhaps, a renewed belief in magic and possibility. David Small’s illustrations are perfect for this story, and don’t you think that Marshall has a bit of a young David Small look to him? Hmm . . . .
Lynn: We try hard not to post about books that aren’t yet available, but sometimes a book is just too tempting to resist. The charming Gingerbread for Liberty: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution (Jan. 2015), by Mara Rockliff, is another book for gingerbread fans. This picture book tells the tasty tale of a gingerbread baker who was a German immigrant to the American colonies. When the Revolution began, the baker wanted to help fight for his new home but, as his wife helpfully pointed out, he was too old and too fat to be a soldier. George Washington was not one to turn away help, though, and he put the baker to work making bread for the Continental Army and even persuading mercenary German troops to switch sides.
Vincent X. Kirsch’s cookie-inspired illustrations are a treat for the eye and created with hot press watercolor paper, watercolor, and “rubblekrepp.” I have no idea what that is but I love the results! Warm browns, oranges and yellows contrast with a lovely turquoise on the pages featuring iced-gingerbread style figures that had me longing for a cookie as I read.
An author’s note provides the fascinating facts about the baker, whose name was Christopher Ludwick, and whose colorful life greatly benefited the war effort and Philadelphia to this day. Happily the book’s endpapers feature an easy recipe for gingerbread!