Everyone here has been very excited about the publication of this book. Both my husband and C and H are complete and utter bread monsters (and I’m partial to the odd bun every so often as well) and so the fact that there was a book (by the brilliant Ahlberg and Ingman team, no less) coming out about their very favourite foodstuff caused much celebratory cartwheeling and toast-making in this house.
However, even if you don’t have the same deep attachment to the subject matter, this is still a book that Must. Not. Be. Missed. It had the same effect on me as ‘The Princess Who Had No Kingdom’ (read my review here) in that I immediately knew that this was a book I would love forever. For that reason, I was almost nervous to share it with M, C and H – I wouldn’t have been able to bear it if they hadn’t liked it, or had even just been indifferent to it.
Luckily, I had nothing to worry about as they were equally as delighted by it. I decided that, in addition to donating books to our local Children’s Centre, I would give the boys a book each for International Book Giving Day this past Thursday, so this was H’s gift and C got the gorgeous ‘Lunchtime‘, by Rebecca Cobb. Both of them were read as the boys ate their evening meal and were met with riotous, table-slapping approval.
‘Hooray for Bread’ tells the story of a loaf of bread from the wee small hours of the morning when it’s baked up until the point the last little crumb is consumed late at night. More than some of his other books, the pace and tone of this poem reminds me of Ahlberg’s ‘Peepo‘ (illustrated by his late wife, Janet), helped by the fact that they’re both about a day in the life of ‘something’ (a loaf of bread and a little baby and his family respectively). ‘Peepo’ was one of the first books I can remember being able to read by myself and I read it to both C and H while I was pregnant with them, so maybe part of the magic I felt when reading it was nostalgia.
Certainly, the story focuses on simple pleasures and has a ‘days gone by’ feel about it from the beginning, with a reference to old wives’ tales about eating crusts to make your hair curly:
The tale continues by sharing how the smiley loaf of bread is gradually used up during the day – for sandwiches, feeding the ducks, beans on toast, etc. We are led to wonder about the hopes and dreams of the little loaf and the reference to it, “humming to itself” made me grin from ear to ear:
Both C and H adored following the journey of the loaf and its slices and the cosy familiarity with which the book describes so many scenes that occur here daily. They also lingered for ages over the final spread, which shows the bread and its many complementary foodstuffs cheering, “Hooray, Hooray for Bread!” My favourite are the baked beans…:
Reading this book led onto an interesting discussion with C about where food comes from (there are references to cornfields in the story) and encouraged us to dig out ‘How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? The Story Of Food‘, which is a well-worn favourite in this house.
However, more than any further reading it encouraged or sentimental memories it inspired, this book is just a wonderful story with beautiful illustrations and for me, it’s pretty much perfect.
P.S. If all this talk of food has got your creative juices flowing and your tummies rumbling, head on over to the excellent ‘Playing by the book’ blog, where Zoe is hosting an Edible Book Festival! Bruce Ingman (who illustrated ‘Hooray for Bread’) is a patron of the event and will be helping Zoe to judge the competition. All the details can be found in this post and it would be lovely to see as many people as possible getting involved.