Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Brother Hugo and the Bear and Brother Giovanni's Little Reward (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

Brother Hugo and the Bear is a charming hardcover book that tells the fictional tale of a monk named Hugo and the bear he encountered one day. Lent was just beginning, and brother Hugo had a book due at the monastery library. However, he could not return it, because a bear had eaten it. It sounds a lot like "The dog ate my homework" excuse. The abbot in charge of the monastery gave him the task/penance of going to another monastery to borrow a copy of the missing book and transcribing a replacement copy. This is a tough task to do, let alone in 40 days, so his brother monks help him. It is in this book that we learn the many steps that went into making a book in that day and age. There was sheepskin to be turned into pages, feathers to be turned into quills, and ink to be made. Brother Hugo learned a lesson about brotherhood and that many hands make light work. Once he finishes the book, he must return the original back to the other monastery, but the bear begins to follow him again. If you want to find out if he made it, you'll have to buy the book. This was a beautiful book that is equally entertaining and educational. I especially enjoyed the illustrations, as it felt like reading an older book with gilded and embellished letters. At the end of the book, you will find a historical note as well as glossary to further your child's knowledge on the subject of making books/manuscripts in the 12th century. Five stars!

Brother Giovanni's Little Reward tells the story of naughty children refusing to learn their prayers and a Bishop coming to visit. The monks are distressed, because all of them have tried various methods, but none have worked. Thus, they task Giovanni, the baker monk, with the job of teaching the children. He tries different approaches including being stern and dancing with them, but they all fail. One night it hits him! He will bake them a special treat to motivate them to learn. He thinks for a while, and he soon arrives at the design for the pretiola or what we know today as the pretzel. This treat is a hit and the children all learn their prayers perfectly! At the end of the book is a note to the reader that tells them that it was indeed a monk who created the pretzel, but it is not clear who or what country he was from. There is also a recipe and instructions for how to make your own pretzels. Cute story. Five stars!

These books were provided to me for free by Eerdmans Book for Young Readers in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!