Eerdmans Books ISBN 97809396530
PRI K-Grade 3 Rating: 5
The upbeat nature of Anna Egan Smucker’s story of how the pretzel came to be lends a heartwarming atmosphere and endearing reaction to Brother Giovanni and the children.
The children are having a hard time learning their prayers, and the Abbot seeks help from the young and energetic monks. Though the first efforts are not successful, Brother Giovanni comes up with a solution in the presence of his orange tabby cat, arriving at a special treat: bread rolled and twisted into the shape of praying arms. The combination of baking and learning prayers in Brother Giovanni’s Little Reward soon has the children folding their arms over their chests in the shape of the “pretiolas” and praying.
The warm illustrations by Hall reinforce the cheery nature of how the story progresses, with even the endpapers showing Brother Giovanni riding from the monastery to the hilltop village. The pastel watercolor inks and gouache reflect the exuberance generated by the kind baker. In the style of illuminated manuscripts, many of the illustrations are framed with decorative and interesting borders. A reader’s note explains the historical background of the invention of the pretzel as well as a recipe for soft pretzels.
This story goes well with Eric Carle’s Walter the Baker.
Leroy Hommerding, CLJ