IMWAYR: Baking Tales by Heather Forest

IMWAYRAugust House, a publishing company based in Atlanta, sent me review copies of several of their latest titles. I don’t always review everything I receive; I am hesitant to recommend any book that I am not fully impressed by. After all, this blog is essentially a labor of love. That said, I liked what I received and decided to promote the items. Last Thursday, I sponsored a giveaway for the book Teaching with Story: Classroom Connections to Storytelling. Only three people have signed up so far, so I encourage you to enter! But this Monday, I wanted to write about two picture books from August House. Both are beautifully illustrated and well-written adapted folktales. And by the way, I have received no money for these reviews or the giveaway.

The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies
Retold by Heather Forest
Illustrated by Susan Gaber
Ages 4+

Author Heather Forest and illustrator Susan Gaber have been friends for twenty-five years and have collaborated on four picture books. When you read The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies, you get a sense of this close relationship between text and images. Fairies literally hang off words and fly through the pages.

Flummoxedfairy1The fairies are not evil in this Scottish story, but they need to be tricked if the talented bakerwoman is ever to regain her life as a mother and wife. Jealous that they are deprived of her fine cakes, the fairies plot to kidnap the woman and keep her as their own personal baker.  This woman is no one’s fool, however, and she manages to fool the fairies into releasing her, but not without promises of future goodies. I would recommend this story to children who love fairies, as well as fans of folklore. Parents or educators looking for books featuring strong female characters would also do well to check out this title. Finally, a story where Mom is the hero!

The Baker’s Dozen: A Colonial American Tale
Retold by Heather Forest
Illustrated by Susan Gaber
Ages 5+

Christmas is coming and what better way to celebrate than to read a traditional tale featuring talking Saint Nicholas cookies. Van Amsterdam, a baker in Albanytown, works hard to develop a excellent reputation and then, not uncommonly, proceeds to rest on his laurels and cut corners. An old woman (possibly a witch) notices this decline in quality and chides him for being greedy. Soon, he is unable to bake anything at all and his costumers flee. Van Amsterdam is forced to rebuild his baker's dozenbusiness, but this time he is generous instead of stingy. Thus, the American idea of baker’s dozen (13 instead of 12) was born.

I originally thought this story was a bit harsh, but my 5-year-old son really likes the book and asked me to read it several times. Of course, he loves the gorgeous pictures of baked goods, but I think he is also moved by the message of the importance of hard work and charitable behavior. Thank you again to August House, as well as Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Happy Reading!

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