Patriotic Cookies

9780544130012_hresGingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution
By Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, Boston, $17.99)

Not all of America’s Founding Fathers were landowners, politicians, or generals. One little known figure in the American Revolution was a jovial baker. Christopher Ludwick, a German-American resident of Philadelphia, baked bread for the Continental Army. A fierce patriot, he refused to accept payment for his services. When George Washington put Ludwick in charge of Hessian prisoners of war, the baker’s kindliness –and his delicious food – persuaded many of them to fight for the Continental Army. In his civilian life, he was one of Philadelphia’s most charitable businessmen, donating free bread and gingerbread to the poor, especially destitute children.

In Gingerbread for Liberty!, Mary Rockliff and illustrator Vincent X. Kirsch introduce children – and many adults – to Ludwick. Rockliff’s simple narrative conveys the baker’s heartiness and warmth. Kirsch’s illustrations make the picture-book biography particularly appetizing: all scenes and characters – ships, soldiers, animals, and the bakeshop itself – appear as elaborately decorated gingerbread cookies. A reminder that generosity and kindness have their own power, this captivating book is a fitting tribute to an almost forgotten American patriot.

-Dorothy A. Dahm

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