Written by Allan Ahlberg, Illustrated by Bruce Ingram
Candlewick Press, 2013
This is the tale of a loaf of bread
From the day that it was born
In a baker’s oven, baking hot
On a cold and frosty morn.
The plot in a nutshell: The life cycle of a loaf of bread
The baker has the first slice, which is all crust, early in the morning. His wife has the second slice with her breakfast in bed. The next two slices make a sandwich for their son (and his dog). A slice goes with his wife and baby to feed the ducks. Everyone in the family has a slice with lunch. Two slices disappear. All that’s left of the loaf now is a small fraction of what it once was, so at this point, the story breaks the rest of it down into crumbs. The baker’s wife throws some crumbs out the window for the birds and, as the family goes to sleep, the last crumb is eaten by a mouse. The missing slices show up at the end, to gather all the food together for a cheer.
Author Allan Ahlberg made a pretty good choice of food item to celebrate. I mean, isn’t bread awesome? Instead of being a commemoration of bread in general, this book zeroes in on a particular loaf from the time it comes out of the oven to the last crumb. It’s a pretty fun concept for a picture book, told in rhyming verse. I really loved all the ways we got to see the family using the bread, especially when they went to the pond to feed the ducks with it (since that used to be a favorite activity of mine.) While some of the rhymes seemed a little trite or even forced in a few spots, I enjoyed it overall.
The artwork, from Bruce Ingram, was done in pen and watercolor and it’s bright and cheery, with sunny yellow backgrounds and lots of fun details. (Keep your eyes peeled for the bird in a cap who shows up frequently outside the family’s house.) We get to see what the bread is thinking a couple of times and it’s a neat touch that each slice of bread seems to be its own person as the loaf is cut. A fun book that is sure to be enjoyed by anyone who thinks the kitchen is the heart of their house.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that one loaf of bread can be involved in many parts of a good day.