cover image The Baker's Dozen: A Colonial American Tale

The Baker's Dozen: A Colonial American Tale

Heather Forest. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200412-5

The baker Van Amsterdam becomes known far and wide in Colonial America for his St. Nicholas cookies and, in his prosperity, becomes stingy about his ingredients. When an old woman buys a dozen cookies from him and expects to receive 13, he withholds the last one. His business falls off until the day she returns for 12 more cookies, and he gives her an extra measure. After that, the custom of offering a ``baker's dozen''or 13 itemsis secure. Graber's elegant watercolors are vivid and stylized, showing a dusted palette of burgundies with charcoal and burnished oranges. This is a fine explanation of a longstanding custom, and Forest backs it up with an author's note on the facts. Ages 4-8. (September)