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FICTION

The Peddler and the Baker

Green Bean. Aug. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781784384814.
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Gr 2-4–A poor peddler, content with his life despite his meager possessions, finds great joy in smelling the freshly baked bread from the bakery below his little apartment. However, one day the cantankerous baker demands payment from the peddler—how dare he enjoy the smell of bread for free! The two seek guidance from a rabbi, who teaches them that some things in life should be sacred and priceless. This grand old story is elegantly written and primed to prompt thought-provoking conversation. Every scene is a masterfully composed two-page spread, including scenes of a lively, bustling, old city that are never too busy or chaotic. The city is shown during the golden hues of daytime and the velvety blues of midnight. The soft and lush pencil drawings add detail to the text. For example, the first page introduces the poor but happy peddler, and sharp-eyed readers can see the baker, with his steaming trays of treats, working his way through the crowd on the opposite page. And when the rabbi imparts his wisdom, the pages take on stunning colors not seen elsewhere in the book: Ethereal purples and pinks add a profound, dreamlike quality to the scene. Even the endpapers are populated with lovingly hand-drawn illustrations of baking implements, from bundt pans to whisks. If readers find themselves hungry for the smell and taste of home-baked bread, the book’s back matter includes an easy and delicious challah recipe to try at home.
VERDICT A timeless story rich with Jewish tradition that can be enjoyed by everyone. Perfect for a story hour discussion.

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