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Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How…

Brother Giovanni's Little Reward: How the Pretzel Was Born

by Anna Egan Smucker

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this via Early Reviewers. I enjoyed hearing about the theory of how pretzels were made (since no one really knows). Cute story with a recipe in the back. Unfortunately, my book was not bound or even stapled which makes it hard to share with my class. ( )
  sara1022 | Oct 17, 2015 |
As the author’s note explains at the end of the book, “We cannot be exactly sure who invented the pretzel.” But there are a number of theories, and this book expands on one of them, involving a monk who formed leftover bread dough to look like arms crossed in prayer.

In this story, Brother Giovanni is a happy man who is considered the best baker his monastery had ever had. But all was not well in his monastery. The Bishop was due to arrive, and the Abbot was worried their funding would be cut off because their young pupils could not say their prayers. No one else had succeeded in getting the children to learn, and the Abbot turned to Brother Giovanni to come up with a miracle. The Abbot suggested he “use his gifts.”

Brother Giovanni prayed for guidance. He tried teaching the children to sing their prayers; he tried teaching them to dance while praying; he even tried (unsuccessfully) to look mean; nothing worked!

Then shortly before the Bishop came, he had an idea while praying with his arms crossed. He would make baked treats that resembled arms folded in prayer.

“As the days went by, miracle of miracles, the children learned their prayers. For Brother Giovanni’s little rewards - pretiolas, he called them - everyone was working as hard as they could.”

By the time the Bishop came, the children could recite their prayers perfectly, and they all celebrated with figs, nuts, and Brother Giovanni’s pretiolas, or pretzels.

The story concludes with a note from the author about the history behind the story, and a recipe for soft pretzels.

The vivid and playful illustrations by the much-awarded illustrator, Amanda Hall, were created using watercolor inks combined with gouache. She continues, as in previous books, to employ some techniques reminiscent of the painter Henri Rousseau, such as his "naïve" style, magical imagery, and his playful variations in scale. The detail and imaginary aspects of the pictures will keep the intended audience of ages 4-8 transfixed. ( )
  nbmars | Aug 29, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A charming little tale of how pretzels may have begun as a reward for diligent children. Brother Giovanni and every other monk in the monastery are at their wits' end with a school full of boisterous pranksters, and only the creation of a new snack just for them induces them to settle down and learn their prayers. My grandchildren were all wanting to make pretzels after I read this book to them (there's a recipe in the back). Do pretzels hold magic for 21st century children too? ( )
  muumi | Aug 10, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As the note to the reader points out, no one really knows the origin of the pretzel, but this was a nice little story of one possibility. My children liked the story and were excited to try the recipe that came at the end of the book. Unfortunately, the book arrived completely unbound - no staples or anything - so I can't leave the book where the kids have access to it. I intend to use see through shelf paper on the very thin, flimsy cover, and staple the book so the kids can enjoy it whenever they like. ( )
  srtrent | Aug 9, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Very cute children's book on the origins of the pretzel. ( )
  acrowder | Aug 4, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802854206, Hardcover)

Brother Giovanni is a happy man, content to do what he knows best: baking. But all is not well at his monastery, where the monks are trying to teach the children their prayers in time for a very important visit from the Bishop. Having tried everything, they turn to Giovanni -- but he doesn’t know anything about teaching! Eventually, though, Brother Giovanni discovers how to use his gifts to offer the children the perfect motivation.

This vibrant book, which includes a historical note and free recipe, tells the fascinating story behind one of the world’s most popular snacks.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:00:44 -0400)

Brother Giovanni is a happy man and the best baker his monastery has ever seen, but when he is tasked with preparing the children for the Bishop's visit, he has no luck until he twists some bread dough into a special shape, sprinkles it with salt, and offers it as a reward for learning prayers.… (more)

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