Monday, November 24, 2008

Bread Comes to Life by George Levenson, photography by Shmuel Thaler

Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat by George Levenson, photography by Shmuel Thaler

Reviewed by Lisa Stanger

Do you think it’s time,
For Non-fiction books to rhyme?

Told in rhyme, this nonfiction book aimed at children aged 4-7 tells the story of bread, from sowing wheat to slicing a finished loaf. Author George Levenson brings his film making experience to this project and the result is cinematic page spreads with a concise description of the process of producing bread. A DVD and teaching kit is also available and clearly the major market for this title is an educational one. The uncluttered and striking visuals make this book an invaluable addition to a unit about baking, bread or agriculture. There is a website with teaching activities here.

The rhyme in this book may make it easier for a teacher to read aloud (always a bonus for a nonfiction title), but I think the sometimes awkward nature of it detracts from the strong visual elements and the usefulness of the information :

“Stack up piles of sun-dried stalks,
Rub them in a threshing box.
It’s the simple, old-time miller’s craft
Of separating wheat from chaff.”

This book would be useful with a wide range of children as a general overview of bread production, though older children may not warm to the text where the text will not be perceived as “talking down” to them. A good resource for classes that could have been a great book with a different take on the text.

(The book was originally released in 2004 and is now being reissued in paperback.)

More Info:
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Tricycle Press; Reprint edition (October 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582462739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582462738
  • Source: Review copy from publisher


  1. "Do you think it’s time,
    For Non-fiction books to rhyme?"


  2. This actually looks interesting and unique. I haven't seen any books quite like it.

  3. I have been wanting to bake bread w/the kids. This looks good but you sound right on about the text. It would drive me nuts.

  4. TeacherNinja: Ahahahaha...yeah, I have to agree with Lisa's assessment here. What could have been a GREAT book is marred by the rhyme. Creating a rhyming story is very difficult, and authors often fall short when they attempt it.

    Kim: I have to say that I love the pictures and think it teaches a very good concept...if you can get past the rhymes, it's a great choice. Maybe kids won't mind so much.

    Karen: This book not only tells you how to bake bread, but it also tells you how to grow and harvest wheat and more. So if you're really ambitious.... :)