Soldier, Sailor, Gingerbread Maker: Gingerbread for Liberty! How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution by Mara Rockliff
EVERYONE IN PHILADELPHIA KNEW THE GINGERBREAD BAKER. HIS HONEST FACE, HIS BOOMING VOICE.... AND, OF COURSE, HIS GINGERBREAD, THE BEST IN PHILADELPHIA.
AND YET, DESPITE HIS CARE, THERE ALWAYS SEEMED TO BE BROKEN PIECES FOR THE HUNGRY CHILDREN WHO FOLLOWED THEIR NOSES TO HIS SPICY-SMELLING SHOP.
"NO EMPTY BELLIES HERE!" THE BAKER BELLOWED. "NOT IN MY AMERICA!"
Christopher Ludwick was a German immigrant whose belly was often empty until he sailed to America and opened his own bakery. He was famous for his gingerbread, but also for his citizenship, contributing generously to the life of his adopted city.
And then independence from the old world was suddenly in the air, and the baker felt the call to join George Washington's army.
"WHERE ARE YOU GOING?" HIS WIFE ASKED.
"TO FIGHT FOR MY AMERICA!" HE SAID. "I WAS A SOLDIER ONCE."
"YOU ARE A BAKER NOW, AND YOU ARE OLD AND FAT," SHE SAID.
But Washington's citizen army was young and hungry and General Washington saw just what the gingerbread baker could do for his ragtag army, and soon Ludwick was turning out loaves of nourishing bread and the occasional sweet gingerbread soldier cookie for the troops.
"NO EMPTY BELLIES HERE!" THE BAKER SAID.
And when German mercenaries were hired to fight for the English king, the baker-turned-spy secretly won over many of those hungry young Hessians to join the Americans at a crucial moment with his promise:
"NO EMPTY BELLIES IN MY AMERICA!" HE TOLD THEM.
"An army travels on its stomach," goes the old saying. Washington understood that well, and his ebullient baker-in-chief soon set up a network of bakeries that finally fed the whole Continental Army.
Mara Rockliff's just published Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) tells the story of Christopher Ludwick's devotion to his craft and to his adopted country, from his buttery frosted gingerbread dainties to his brave midnight mission, rowing alone across the bay to win over the boatloads of mercenaries in their own tongue and in the universal language of hunger. A humorous look at one of the more colorful little-known heroes of the American Revolution, Rockliff's account has great appeal, especially with its refrain of "No empty bellies in America," which kids will quickly adopt.
Artist Vincent X. Kirsch uses a gingerbread-themed palette in stylized illustrations that add to the fun of this true story of love of country. Mara Rockliff appends a brief bibliography historical note that points out that the Ludwick Foundation still provides resources for education in his beloved city so that there will be fewer hungry minds in his America.
Winning kudos from all reviewers, Rockliff's just published Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution is a star-spangled treat and a terrific patriotic story for primary readers.