In this warm and inviting picture book, an apartment building bustles with bread–making activity. The sweet smell of collaboration is in the air as families from many different cultures head to their kitchens, roll up their sleeves, and rise to the occasion.
With the confident patter and flair of a cooking show host, the child narrator relays the recipe for success: “The only way to make bread is like this: You always start with a counter or a table. Any clean counter or table will do.” There’s nothing artificial or pretentious in this culinary demonstration. The lively second-person point of view walks readers through the basic steps involved in creating something tasty from a few pantry staples – with plenty of possible variations of tradition, technique, and taste baked in.
Bread making engages all the senses, as does the young foodie’s deliciously descriptive language. Flour can be “soft and white like fresh snow or light brown and scratchy like fine sand.” After pouring, mixing, and grabbing an improvisational “handful of this” and tossing in a “splash of that,” the resulting dough might be “loose and shaggy like an old T-shirt. Sometimes it’s bouncy and firm like fresh playdough.” The indisputable key ingredient is love.
There’s excellent chemistry between Colombian-Canadian debut author Cristina Quintero’s playful, immersive text and Filipino-Canadian illustrator Sarah Gonzales’s softly textured, coloured-pencil artwork with toasty ochre tones and steamy swirls of buttery yellow. Many hands, young and old, make light work in the familial apartment scenes. A variety of perspectives are offered, from bird’s-eye glimpses of families gathered around their kitchen stations laden with bowls and cooking utensils, to a close-up view of a father and child peeking into their pantry cupboard for dry goods.
Food nourishes the body and spirit. All of the residents contribute their freshly made focaccia, challah, bao, bannock, and more to an outdoor potluck picnic, and break bread as a community. An illustrated glossary showcases 11 different types of bread, along with shout-outs to the real-life bakers who inspired the book’s creators. Recipes for arepas and pandesal are also included. The Only Way to Make Bread is perfect for savouring and sharing.