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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cinnamon Baby, written by Nicola Winstanley and illustrated by Janice Nadeau. Kids Can Press, 2011. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"One cool autumn morning a man named Sebastian was passing Miriam's bakeshop when her sweet-smelling voice came floating through the window. He went inside the shop and bought some cinnamon bread. After that he bought a loaf of bread every day for a year."

You know that smell, right? Cinnamon wafting through the air and making a lunge to completely overcome your olfactory senses. Can it soothe a baby's soul? It seems that it might.

Miriam is a baker who cycles to work, where she creates mouth-watering breads that attract much attention. Her Alchemy Bakery fills the nearby street with sweet smells and her singing welcomes her delighted customers:

“She made a spicy bread, studded with little peppercorns and basil, and a sweet bread with ginger. She made a light, white loaf with dill, and a crusty brown one with sunflower seeds and honey.”

Sebastian is a cyclist and a musician who is enticed by both. It isn't too long until he asks her to marry him.
Miriam accepts his proposal and soon they are anticipating the birth of their first child. The baby is born, looking remarkably like both of its parents:

"The child has big brown eyes and dusky skin and smelled like sweet milk."

For three days life is idyllic. When the crying starts on the fourth day, no amount of cajoling and comfort makes the tiniest difference. It takes twelve hours until the baby finally cries itself to sleep. Next morning...same thing! Walks, talks, doctor visits, nothing calms that baby. And again the next day; however, Miriam has an idea! Off they troop to the bakery where she goes about her daily routine, baking her breads and singing her songs. It takes no time for things to change for the better:

"As soon as the little bakery began to fill with the cinnamony smell of the dough, the baby stopped crying...and smiled. Then it slipped into a blissful sleep while its mother sang, and her voice and the smell and the warmth from the oven and the taste of sugar in the air filled all the child's senses."

The warmth of the colors that Janice Nadeau chooses for her artwork is perfect in every way. The cinnamon toned pages and mixed media images will have readers and listeners wanting to pause for endless moments to take it all in.  There are so many wonderful details that you simply don't want to miss! 

Then try cinnamon bread as a quick fix for your unhappy little might just do the trick. It's bound to make everyone else happier anyway.

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