Cinnamon Baby


Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley, illustrated by Janice Nadeau

Miriam was a baker who had her own little bakery where she made wonderful breads.  She always saved the cinnamon bread for last because it was her favorite.  As she made the bread, she sang the songs of her childhood, weaving them with the scent of cinnamon in the air.  Then one day a young man named Sebastian bought some cinnamon bread and continued to by a loaf every day for a year.  Finally, he proposed to Miriam and she said yes.  Soon a baby was on the way, but when the baby arrived it cried and cried and cried.  Nothing would settle the baby down until Miriam got a sudden idea  and headed for the bakery with her family.  She made every kind of bread with the cinnamon bread saved for last.  And what do you think happened when her voice mixed with the cinnamon and sugar in the air?

This modern magical story is simply delicious.  Winstanley’s writing is gentle and strolling, building towards the story and throughout until it is neatly tied together by the end.  There is a sense of ease, of simplicity and of love throughout the entire book that is very comforting and warm. 

Nadeau’s illustrations have a modern feel to them with their bright mix of yellows and pinks against browns and grays.  At the same time, they feel timeless with the people riding bicycles, pushing prams, and the motif of curling wrought iron. 

This sweet story has the spice of cinnamon to keep it interesting and the warmth of bread baking to keep it filling.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Kids Can Press.

The Tree House: Wordless and Wonderful


The Tree House by Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman

This is a wordless picture book by a father/daughter team who have created a magical immersive experience.  A polar bear swims towards a tree house that stands alone in the water.  Later, a brown bear arrives in a boat.  The two bears stay together in the tree house, reading books as the sea below turns pink with a flock of flamingos.  As the flamingos pass, more animals arrive, including a rhino who bashes the trunk of the tree, two pandas, some owls, a hippo, and a peacock.  Another bear arrives via balloon and takes the peacock away.  The other animals head off, leaving the two original bears together in the tree house.

My synopsis doesn’t capture the beauty of this picture book at all, as is often the case with wordless picture books, the story is so much more about the pictures than anything that can be summarized in words.  The illustrations are simple and beautiful.  The tree house itself is unchanging, printed in exactly the same way from page to page.  It offers a consistency while the world changes around it.  The level of the water rises and falls, the sky changes colors, the seasons move.  The tree house stands, staying constant through it all, even as it supports so many animals.

There is a lovely gentle mood throughout the book.  A sense of playfulness and unexpectedness fills the story as well.  The surprise of the suddenly pink page when the flamingos arrive is visually arresting and very effective.  The colors are deep, from a blue that is almost black and perfect captures late evening to a canary yellow that sings. 

This is a book of wonder, a beautiful place to spend some moments with someone in a tree house out in the water.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Lemniscaat.

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