GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!
GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!
GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!
GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!
GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!
GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!
GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!
GINGERBREAD FOR LIBERTY!

A book about a German baker who helped win the American Revolution.

Written by Mara Rockliff

Illustrated in a cut-paper style meant to resemble freshly baked gingerbread cookies

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

A 2015 Junior Library Guild Selection

An Association for Library Service to Children Notable books 2016 

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Excellence in Illustration Award from The 2016 Children’s Literature Council of Southern California Awards Committee

It’s a little-known Revolutionary War story, and well told: A kind, portly German-born baker, known for feeding his iced gingerbread to the hungry children of Philadelphia, joined General Washington’s troops and kept them well fed through the war. But his biggest triumph came when a flotilla of German ships appeared in American waters, hired by the king of England. The baker rowed out to the men, regaling them with tales of his gingerbread and assurances that in America there was always enough food, until they deserted. An author’s note fills in more of the story, including the heartening fact that Washington had the baker produce 6,000 pounds of bread to feed hungry British troops after they surrendered. Kirsch’s jovial cut-paper illustrations, in warm tones of ginger and cinnamon, complement the playful patriotism of Rockliff’s text. ~ THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

*Starred review 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 story times. ~ SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

*Starred review Rockliff (The Grudge Keeper) and Kirsch (Noah Webster and His Words) pay playful tribute to a Revolutionary War hero whose legacy lies in his culinary talent. Just before the outbreak of the war, Christopher Ludwick emigrated from Germany to Philadelphia, where he set up a bakeshop specializing in gingerbread (“the best in all the thirteen colonies”) and let no one go hungry: “No empty bellies here!” he booms. “Not in my America!” Ludwick shrewdly uses his baking skills after enrolling in Washington’s army to feed both colonial troops and British-hired German soldiers, in an effort to persuade them to defect to the patriots’ side. Working in watercolor, Kirsch takes a cue from Ludwick’s baking to create characters that resemble gingerbread cookies with white icinglike details; speech-balloon comments add another layer of humor to the story. Rockliff’s story celebrates an unheralded historical figure, reinforces the value of creatively employing one’s skills, and reminds readers that heroes can be found in surprising places. A gingerbread cookie recipe appears on the endpapers. ~ PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

*Starred review Mara Rockliff (The Grudge Keeper) introduces an actual Revolutionary baker who’s as enchanting as he is heroic, portrayed in illustrations that look good enough to eat.Philadelphians loved the baker for “his honest face” and “booming laugh”–and, of course, his gingerbread. Vincent X. Kirsch’s (Noah Webster and His Words) opening image depicts the baker carrying a pyramid of golden gingerbread, sporting a toast-brown jacket, trousers and hat, outlined in what could be icing, and walking past a delicious-looking town square. His gingerbread is “the best in all the thirteen colonies.” Rockliff places readers in a blossoming country where the baker provides “broken pieces” of gingerbread for hungry children (“once upon a time, he had been young and hungry too”). But “something was in the air (besides the smell of baking gingerbread).” The baker hangs up his apron, and offers his services–and just in time! General Washington’s men are threatening desertion: “They say the food is terrible!” The baker replies, “No empty bellies here. Not in my America!” Kirsch’s cookie-cutter images of a battalion approaching by sea, hired by England’s king, lessen the threat and sweeten the humor. Washington turns pale, but the German-born baker welcomes them. Rockliff uses recurring refrains for maximum impact. He translates the words heard in the Philadelphia streets (“Revolution! Independence! Liberty!”) into German (plus the promise of food: “No empty bellies here”) and converts the mercenaries to revolutionaries. At the end, Rockliff reveals his identity (Christopher Ludwick) and a gingerbread recipe. Readers will be back for seconds. ~ SHELF AWARENESS


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