Title Walter the Baker
Illustrator/Photographer Eric Carle
Publisher and Year Simon & Schuster, 1995
Number of pages: 27
Genre: Historical fiction, myth
Descriptive Annotation: This book is written and illustrated in the typical Eric Carle fashion. While there is no rhyming in the book, the illustrations are fantastic and add depth to the text. Walter the Baker is about a baker, Walter, who bakes the best rolls in the land. Each day, Walter provides rolls for the Duke and Duchess. One day, however, he has no milk to use and creates a roll made out of water—one that the royals did not enjoy. Walter was at risk of banishment unless he created a new, better roll, that can show the shining sun out of three holes. Frustrated, Walter went back to his bakery but could not seem to create a delicious roll. Finally, out of desperation, Walter threw dough into the air and it landed in the shape of a pretzel. He and his family baked the pretzel and presented it to the Duke and Duchess, who loved it! Walter kept his title of the best baker in the whole Duchy. Students will have to understand different baking terms as well as the concept of a Duke and Duchess.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book is set in the past, a time when each community had a ruler and each person within the community had a specific job. This book would be useful in discussing what life was like in these “medieval” times as well as spark conversation and conjecture on how other popular foods (other than pretzels) could have originated. Because Walter the Baker could not please the Duke and Duchess with his rolls, he was at risk of banishment. Students could discuss the concept of having to please a particular leader and compare that to today’s American policies.
Interdisciplinary Connections: When doing a unit in social studies on medieval times, this book would be beneficial. It gives students a story and illustrations to reinforce what was discussed in a textbook (for example: a caste system) in a fun way. This book could also be used during a lesson that discusses availability of goods or consumerism. Walter’s cat spilled his milk, and he was unable to get any more—ask students, how does that compare to today?
Other Information: I really enjoyed this book. I think students would enjoy it as well because it is relatable—many students eat pretzels everyday, and this book explains in a fun way where they came from. This book allows the experience of many emotions and also teaches children to not give up. Students who enjoy historical fiction and myths as well as those who are fans of Eric Carle’s other works would like this book. There are some difficult words used in the book that will require defining and the teacher may have to explain how communities were organized in the past. In order to accommodate students, the teacher may either read the book aloud or allow students to read in groups. At the end of the book, the actual origin of the pretzel is described, so teachers may take that further and have students make their own pretzels or research where other popular foods came from.