CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007
Most children love to bake. Of course, they enjoy the outcome of their labours, but they also love the process of mixing and rolling or shaping their creations. Laïla Héloua taps into a child’s enthusiasm for experimenting in the next food adventure of the Tangerine and Kiwi series titled Visit the Bread Baker.
Illustrated in soft watercolour hues by Nathalie Lapierre, the storyline follows siblings, Tangerine and Kiwi, as they visit their grandpa who is a baker. The children and their mother walk the reader through the basic steps of bread making. Throughout this process, the reader is given brief explanations about the purpose of the different ingredients required to make bread. Unfortunately, the story does not follow the actual steps of a recipe. For instance, the purpose of the yeast is discussed after the mother is shown adding the liquid to the flour mixture. Ordinarily, this would not be an issue; however, at the end of the book the recipe for the bread Tangerine and Kiwi make is given.
As the bread is rising, the mother tells about her childhood memories of living above the bakery. Finally, like the Little Red Hen, Kiwi and Tangerine enjoy the rewards of their labour.
Nathalie Lapierre adds an additional treat for the observant child by placing a couple of friendly bugs intermittently throughout the story. The children I read the story with quickly began trying to find a ladybug on each page.
The recipe given at the back of the book makes a tasty treat to share. However, not enough detail is given in the directions for a novice baker. For example, the whole amount of flour was not needed to achieve the right consistency of dough, though the recipe indicated to “gently add the rest of the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.” I was not able to stir the dough for 10 minutes; I had to knead it. Finally, there are no visual helps to follow. This lack may cause some disappointment if the adult tries to make the bread together with a child for the first time.
The seven-year-old child with whom I read the book was full of questions about why the grandpa had to light a fire to make the bread. He pointed out the ladybug to me on the cover and then watched for other bugs on subsequent pages. Though he was frustrated by the clarity of instructions, he really enjoyed the crispy, chewy bread when it came out of the oven.
Visit the Bread Baker provides an enjoyable read plus an activity to do with curious children.
Jonine Bergen works at the Millennium Library, in Winnipeg, MB, while completing the Library Technician program at Red River College.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.