If I had to choose a last meal, I’ve always thought it would be a thick slice of still slightly warm, crusty white bread spread with soft, unsalted butter. Perhaps it’s because I have such happy memories as a child walking home on a Saturday morning, being given the torn-off crust, the “heel” of the Bloomer we’d bought at the bakers.
So when I first saw about Hooray for Bread, the latest book from Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Ahlberg, with his books such as Burglar Bill, Each Peach Pear Plum, The Ha Ha Bonk Book and Peepo!, is as bundled up with quintessential childhood memories as illicit white crusts for me, whilst Ingman has top form for food and humour (think The Runaway Dinner, Ronny Rock Starring in Monster Cake Meltdown, for starters).
Hooray for Bread is indeed a hymn of praise for that daily staple. Told in rhyme, slice by slice, we follow a loaf from its baking first thing in the morning, via sandwiches for lunch, to feeding the ducks in the afternoon. As each slice is gobbled up with appreciation there is a chorus of delight – “Hooray… for bread!”, whether from the dogs being sneakily fed by the young boy with his leftovers, or the mouse who discovers a crumb under the table at the end of the day.
Ingman’s illustrations ooze warmth and simplicity – a perfect match for this tale about the uncomplicated pleasures of life. Ingman’s eyebrows are something I particularly love (well, those which he draws…. I’ve not inspected his personal eyebrows although I’m sure they are very lovely too!); with the slightest flick of his pen his bread slices and sandwich fillings become quirky, cheeky, cheerful characters. Look out for the birds with hats on and the mischievous looking teddy bear, which suggest yet more tales away from the page.
When Bruce Ingman agreed to become this year’s Patron of the International Edible Book Festival I was more than delighted. And given this, we simply had to try creating our own edible books to go with Hooray for Bread. We came up with two “tomes”:
The first was a loaf baked in a book-shaped tin, using bread sticks to spell out the title. We had this for supper, tearing off chunks to dip into a stew. Yum Yum is all I can say about that.
Next up we tried something using flat bread – a basic dough mixture, but after it had risen once we mixed in herbs/spices/dried fruit and nuts, and then rolled it flat with a rolling pin, before using cookie cutters.
The bread letters made a perfect centrepiece for lunch!
As to bread recipes, if you’ve never made bread before, why not start with a packed of bread mix from the supermarket? These are so simple, and often just need water or milk adding. Mixing and kneading the dough are great activities to involve the kids with – for them it’s much like playing with playdough! Offer them some seeds or dry herbs to mix into the dough and you’ve instantly got a sensory activity where the process is as much fun as the end result.
Whilst we kneaded our dough we listened to (and kept dancing to):
Other activities which would go well alongside reading Hooray for Bread include:
What’s your favourite sort of bread? Do you have a favourite bread recipe to make with the kids?
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Hooray for Bread from the publisher. I was under no obligation to review it and I received no payment for this review.