Monday, August 10, 2015

Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born

Brother Giovanni is a happy man, content to do what he knows best: baking. But all is not well at his monastery, where the monks are trying to teach the children their prayers in time for a very important visit from the Bishop. Having tried everything, they turn to Giovanni -- but he doesn’t know anything about teaching! Eventually, though, Brother Giovanni discovers how to use his gifts to offer the children the perfect motivation.

This vibrant book, which includes a historical note and free recipe, tells the fascinating story behind one of the world’s most popular snacks.

What I Like: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Author Anna Egan Smucker has written a clever story about a monk who invented the pretzel, based on historical sources that attribute the pretzel to an unknown monk in Italy or France in 615 AD. I loved how the shape of the pretzel has significance in its creation and in the book. I think kids will love the story behind the the pretzel and how it relates to Christianity. It is a cute story with the potential to open children's hearts to praying.

This book is a great for story time to be read by a teacher to the class. The teacher can also learn from this book and can incorporate a pretzel snack to get the children even more interested. There is a recipe in the back for soft pretzels.

The illustrations matched the story very well and are very colorful and  nicely drawn. Illustrator Amanda Hall filled the pages with illustrations that are reminiscent of old paintings but easily likable for children.

The book is large and makes it a great for sharing the book with the children.

What I Dislike: There are a few instances where the author would like the reader to assume the reasons for feelings and actions.  Example: The donor of the church is coming for a visit and the monks believe he will be upset if the children don't know their prayers. That is understandable but then the book goes on to say that they will no longer be able to sell their bread if the donor is upset. As an adult I can surmise that they believe the donor will discontinue donations and therefor they can not purchase the supplies needed to make and sell their livelihood but I'm not sure a 4 year old can make that leap. I'm not even sure he would understand if an adult tried to explain that concept.

This price is a bit too steep.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: 4-8

Publisher Info: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2015; ISBN: 9780802854209 ; Hardcover, 34 pgs., $17.00

Buy it Now at for $12.49
OR Buy it at for $11.28

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