Monday, May 15, 2017

Brother Giovanni's Little Reward by Anna Egan Smucker -- NO

Smucker, Anna Egan Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born, illustrated by Amanda Hall. PICTURE BOOK. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), 2015. $17.00 . Content: G.

Brother Giovanni is a good-hearted and talented baker at his monastery, but when he's assigned to teach the attending children to say their prayers, he has no luck at all -- although they do have a fantastic time. Worried, Brother Giovanni prays one evening -- and discovers that his folded arms would make the perfect shape for small loaves of bread. With the new type of bread -- or pretzels -- as rewards, the children eagerly learn their prayers.

An afterword both explains that no one actually knows how pretzels were originally invented and gives a recipe for the little treats.

If this story were based on a true story, it could perhaps -- with a little stretching -- have some historical significance for being in an occasional school library. Not only is the story completely fictional, however, but it is also quite religious. In addition, I found many of the illustrations rather creepy -- especially the extremely intense-looking eyes on quite a few of the children. Perhaps for a public library -- if there's an interest in pretzels or monastery life -- or as a gift to someone who is interested in baking? Otherwise, it's a difficult one to recommend.

EL (K-3) -- NOT RECOMMENDED. Reviewed by Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

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