BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Cinnamon Baby by Nicola Winstanley, illustrated by Janice Nadeau

Cinnamon BabyMiriam is a magical baker who makes her cinnamon bread last because it’s her favorite. When Sebastian bicycles by her Alchemy Bakery with his violin, he’s drawn in by her “sweet-smelling voice,” and after a year of buying a loaf every single day, asks Miriam to marry him. Of course she says yes!

Soon enough, the young couple have a little baby who is the perfect mixture of red-haired Miriam and brown-skinned Sebastian: “big brown eyes and dusky skin and smelled like sweet milk.” On the fourth day of being in the world, “the baby started to cry.” And no matter what sweet Miriam or doting Sebastian does, the baby’s tears only pause to sleep.

Days, doctors, much desperation later, Miriam figures out what will finally make the baby happy: dough … especially of the cinnamon variety. The threesome dash to the bakery, Miriam sets to work while Sebastian and the baby wait and watch, anticipating that delectable cinnamon loaf. Soon enough, their cinnamon baby settles into perfect contentment.

As adorable as the newborn tale is, the one small detail that made me pause was why the baby remained genderless at least in print, prompting debut author Nicola Winstanley to refer to the baby as “it,” even while veteran illustrator Janice Nadeau’s pretty-in-pink illustrations strongly suggest the baby is s girl. Perhaps this was a cultural choice  – both author and illustrator are our far north neighbors – without any possible underlying judgment attached, but I found the choice somewhat disconcerting, perhaps oversensitive about referring to a mixed-race child as “it.”

Regardless, as the mother of a once-colicky hapa newborn, I immediately recognized and empathized with the befuddled new parents. Nadeau whimsically captures the baby’s mighty waterworks, showering her worried mother from the ever-mobile pink baby-buggy, her anxious father during an already wet bath, even baptizing the trying doctor in his examination room.

By story’s end, Mommy knows best (which I’m always trying to convince our too fast-growing, ever doubting kids) … at least for a few more years until baby’s tears evolve into teenage talkback! Oh, truly, the joys of parenthood are neverending!

Readers: Children

Published: 2011


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