Gingerbread for Liberty by Mara Rockliff (Author), Vincent X. Kirsch (Illustrator)

 

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A little-known figure from the American Revolution era is given a fresh look for another generation of history lovers. This book relates the tale of a generous, beloved, and industrious member of the Philadelphia community, originally from Germany, referred to as “the baker.” The book centers on his insistence upon joining the war effort, despite being told he’s too old and fat. George Washington put the baker to work baking bread for the troops and eventually sent him on a special mission to convince the mercenary Hessian soldiers to abandon the English army. Rockliff’s dialogue-laden text is accessible, even humorous at times (“General Washington did not say the baker was old and fat. General Washington was too polite. Anyway, he had other troubles on his mind.”). Rendered in watercolor, the charming illustrations aptly depict the people and objects as gingerbreadlike, using a palette of warm, cinnamon tones and sugary white lines that detail the free-floating, cut-paper shapes. Repetitive shapes with a lack of depth complete the cookie illusion. The simple recipe on the end pages offers options for different skill levels. Back matter, including a list of sources, provides fuller detail and context as well as the baker’s name: Christopher Ludwick. A sweet addition to Revolutionary War units where a more behind-the-scenes look is desired and a nonfiction twist on gingerbread-themed storytimes.—Carol S. Surges, formerly at Longfellow Middle School, Wauwatosa, WI