cover image Papa's Pastries

Papa's Pastries

Charles Toscano, illus. by Sonja Lamut, Zonderkidz, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-310-71602-0

Effective use of repetition and a pleasing rhythm invigorate debut author Toscano's predictable but touching tale about the rewards of faith and neighborly compassion. When Miguel accompanies his Papa on a day's journey to three villages, people respond to Papa's singing with joyful dancing, but cannot afford his homemade pastries. Lamut's (Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks) full-bleed watercolors set earth-toned hues against pale blue-gray washes, while alternating half-spread paintings are framed against white backgrounds. The illustrations, which depict thin, barefoot, ragged villagers weaving, transporting wood, and selling various goods, effectively convey communal warmth and industry against a backdrop of poverty and looming fear. After giving away all their goods, Miguel and Papa return empty-handed to their broken-down hut, where the distraught, hungry faces of Miguel's siblings capture the emotional and physical cost of Papa's generosity. However, the story's moral, delivered by Papa—"Kindness is far more valuable than money"—proves true as the recipients arrive with generous offerings of their own the next day. Papa's morning prayer and Miguel's evening prayer frame the story, demonstrating the passage of faith from one generation to another. Ages 4–7. (Sept.)