The Patron Thief of Bread

Candlewick. May 2022. 448p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781536204681.
Gr 3-7–For 90 years, a group of stone gargoyles watched from atop the unfinished cathedral that overlooks Odierne, before a woman, escaping the constables with her baby, jumps from beside their perch into the raging river below. Eight years later, the Crowns, eight children devoted to one another and to survival, arrive in the town and find themselves in the cathedral, a place that hasn’t yet been claimed by any other gang, and decide to stay. To do this, they place their youngest member Duck as an apprentice with Odierne’s baker, from whom she can skim coins and bread for the family. The plot develops smoothly as Duck faces increasingly difficult choices while learning from her new master in her first permanent home, and while witnessing new dangers for the only family she has ever known. The gargoyles, with one as a narrator, are used as a bookend for the story, providing readers with the cathedral’s and Duck’s background. As Duck becomes more familiar with breadmaking and reading, she continues to look for a way to take care of her entire family while juggling her own blossoming dreams. Eagar has written a complex and layered novel, with a vivid setting of medieval France and powerful themes of home and community.
VERDICT A first purchase for libraries where Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale is popular.

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