Cinnamon Baby – Nicola Winstanley, ill. Janice Nadeau

Cinnamon Baby – Nicola Winstanley, ill. Janice Nadeau

Preschool to Grade 2  (Kids Can Press, 2011)

In this modern fable, Miriam is a baker who combines ingredients and song to create wonderfully delectable varieties of bread. Her aromatic cinnamon bread draws Sebastian into her bakery and a year later they are married.

A beautiful cinnamon baby with dusky skin is born and the family is happy until the child begins to cry inconsolably.

After trying everything, Miriam returns to her bakery where she bakes cinnamon bread and, as the “cinnamony smell… fill[s] all the child’s senses,” the baby is soothed.  The family returns to bliss.

This is Nicola Winstanley’s first picture book and she infuses it with rich sensory detail, marrying senses in her descriptions of Miriam’s “sweet-smelling voice” or “the taste of sugar in the air.” She fills the book with delicious language and “tastes to make your tongue tingle,” the alliterative effect, when read aloud, itself tingling on the tongue.

Janice Nadeau, recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Illustration, uses soft watercolours, paper collage and line work to embrace Winstanley’s story perfectly: words and illustrations curl together as ribbons of song flow from Miriam and encircle the text on the page.

Neither text nor illustrations are overly sentimental though. There is humour in details, such as the cat that plays violin when Sebastian and Miriam meet and who hides under an umbrella while the baby’s tears rain down.

Cinnamon Baby is a beautiful read-aloud book for children ages 3 to 7 – but also for anyone who has ever tried to soothe an inconsolable infant.

Review originally published in Canadian Children’s Book News, Spring 2011

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