Soosie the Horse That Saved Shabbat by Tami Lehman-Wilzig

Cover image

Soosie the Horse That Saved Shabbat by Tami Lehman-Wilzig, illustrated by Menahem Halberstadt (9780998852775)

Long ago, when Jerusalem was still a small town, there was a bakery. The bakery specialized in challah, and made enough for the entire community. Jacob was the bakery’s delivery boy who drove the cart that was pulled by Soosie, the owners’ horse. The two traveled in the early morning along the cobblestone streets of Jerusalem, delivering challah. As each family paid, the coins dropped into the metal bank with a clink-clang. They did the same route, day after day, month after month. But then one day, Jacob was too sick to make the deliveries. Jacob was certain that Soosie, the horse, could make the deliveries all on her own. So they put a note on the cart and sent her on her way. Soosie stopped at each place, accepted the money in the bank, and walked on. Back at the bakery, they worried about whether Soosie could do it all on her own. Three hours passed, and finally Soosie was home again with an empty wagon and a bank full of coins.

Inspired by the history of Angel Bakery in Jerusalem, the author created a gentle folktale about dependability, challah and Shabbat. The author explains the details of Shabbat in her author notes, including the importance of animal rights as a part of Shabbat. Her writing pays homage to folklore capturing the same repeating elements as Jacob and Soosie make their regular rounds. She also uses plenty of sounds in her writing, emphasizing them and inviting participation.

The illustrations are light-hearted and merry. From the bustling bakery to the stable next door to the many people of Jerusalem they interact with. The entire book has the same quiet humor and good-natured belief in one another.

Paying homage to folklore and Jerusalem, this Jewish picture book is full of the warmth of bread and community. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from ARC provided by Kalaniot Books.

Review: There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach

There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach

There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach (9780399556661)

The author of The Bear Ate Your Sandwich has returned with a second book about a hungry bear (or two.) Muffin is a bakery cat who solves cases when night falls. He knows all of the night sounds until one night when he hears a “grrrrrrrr” noise. At first he can’t locate the noise, but when he returns to the bakery he discovers the largest mouse he has ever seen! Or perhaps it’s the smallest bear. The sound is coming from the little bear’s stomach. Muffin knows just what to do to solve the problem: he feeds the little bear the bakery treats. Then a second bear shows up, much larger than the first. Could Muffin be in a bear-load of trouble?

Sarcone-Roach writes with exceptional tone and turns of phrase in this picture book. She uses bakery metaphors such as “I slipped into the darkness like icing melting down a hot cake.” The metaphors continue when Muffin meets the bears, giving readers a sense of what they smell like, sound like and even feel like. The story here is clever with a cat whose job might be to solve issues but most likely not by feeding wild creatures.

The art is full of colors with yellows and blues playing against deeper blacks in the shadows. Muffin pops with his orange coat against these colors. There is a playfulness in the illustrations that is particularly effective even with their dark colors and nighttime vibe.

A perfect combination of cat and bears that will leave readers craving sprinkles. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by Knopf.

Review: Bake Sale by Sara Varon

bake sale

Bake Sale by Sara Varon

Cupcake owns a bakery and his life has a certain routine to it.  Wake up at 6:30 am, head to the bakery, bake, and then open the shop at 9:00 am, work until 4:00 pm, then spend time with his friend, Eggplant.  Eggplant is planning a trip to Turkey to visit his family, who happen to know the very famous chef, Turkish Delight.  When Eggplant invites Cupcake to join him on the trip, Cupcake has to work hard to make more money and pay for it.  As he tries new things, his delight in baking returns.  Perhaps the solution to his struggles is closer to home than he thought!

Varon is the author of the very successful, Robot Dreams.  While this graphic novel doesn’t have the power of that book, it is still a great read that children will respond to.  The book also includes seven recipes for food that Cupcake makes in the book.  All of Varon’s books have a winning quirkiness to them.  Here you have Cupcake who creates cupcakes for other people to eat.  A bit strange, but that’s what makes Varon’s worlds so intriguing.

Her illustrations are just as clear and charming as always.   The characters are expressive, funny and interesting. The text is fanciful and fun, often meandering a bit rather than driving the story forward.  It reads and seems as if readers are really looking at Cupcake’s life.

A whimsical graphic novel that is not too sugary at all.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Also reviewed by

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.


Pantaloon by Kathryn Jackson, illustrated by Steven Salerno

A re-illustrated classic Golden Book that was first published in 1951, this book gets a charming new look.  Pantaloon is a dog that loves to eat baked goods.  So when a job opens at his local bakery, Pantaloon thinks he will be perfect for it.  But the baker doesn’t.  He thinks that Pantaloon will eat more than he bakes.  Pantaloon even tries a disguise to get the job, but he’s discovered.  While Pantaloon is in the barber shop getting his hair cut and trying to come up with his next plan, the baker heads out for more sugar.  Unfortunately, he trips over Pantaloon’s bicycle on the way and ends up in bed.  Pantaloon eagerly steps in and ices the cakes and delivers all of the goodies to customers.  What will the baker say when he returns?

Jackson’s text has an old-fashioned feel to it.  It has very nice repeating lines that really tie the piece together.  Pantaloon yearns for baked goods in a series of lines and the goodies at the bakery are listed in a winning way each time they are featured.  Salerno’s illustrations have a retro feel to them, nicely complementing the feel of the text.  His use of bright colors makes the book feel fresh and vibrant.

A very nice read aloud for food or dog story times, this is a retro sugar-rush of a book.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by:

Also check out the images on Steven Salerno’s blog of the old and new versions.