Score: 92+/100 (9.2+ out of 10)
Mother's Bread Dough is another powerful, heartwarming children's book by Tuula Pere, one of our most prolific children's authors and a perennial success at this point.
Mother's Bread Dough takes the perspective of a little boy named Leo and his mother as they are forced to abandon their home bakery during a time of war. That's right, this is a war-time story. Keep in mind, though, that no actual scenes of violence or warfare are explicitly shown. All of that happens off-screen. However, we see the affects of the war on the people. For example, the farmers haven't felt safe enough to tend to their fields, so the crops have failed.
Leo and his mom have been separated from Leo's dad with him apparently being conscripted and sent to war. It is lightly implied that his dad might have died in battle, although we don't remember that being explicitly stated.
Anyway, Leo's mom is a master baker, providing tasty, delicious bread not only for the family but for much of the town, a town which is hastily evacuated. Tragically, they are forced to leave their home, bakery, and prized oven behind. However, Mother takes one very valuable thing: the sourdough starter—the core ingredient on which the loaves of bread are made.
Of course, she also takes her most precious thing, Leo himself.
The two endure a hard and arduous journey to safety as refugees, paying their way with the bread they're able to produce.
It gets really gritty at times. For example, the driver of the truck they're fleeing in refuses to turn on his headlights because they presumably make him a target for enemy planes and snipers.
Eventually, in perhaps the book's most heartwarming scene, Leo and Mother come upon another refugee, a little girl, and her sick mother. They find out that they are on separate sides of the war, yet humanity takes over and Mother tends to the girl's sick mom and shares bread with them. Leo and Mother help the two even when the driver of the refugee vehicle is apprehensive to take these “enemies.”
Years later, after the war is done, Leo and Mother encounter the girl and her mother. They are no longer enemies. In fact, they're fellow compatriots and, more importantly, fellow human beings. This says a lot about compassion and why we should treat people the way we'd want to be treated.
Leo and Mother are eventually able to restart their baking business, even donating the expiring loaves to the community. Several of the impoverished, homeless, and destitute come to appreciate this and swear that it has saved or changed their lives.
This is a very heartwarming and lovely story. With so many wars and conflicts going on in our world like in Ukraine, Syria, and Sudan, this is definitely something that resonates with a large population. This book highlights that whether we're in a state of peace or war, no matter where they are in the world, people are people just trying to live their lives, take care of their families, and do their jobs.
It is a beautiful and inspiring story!
Check this out on Amazon!