The value of ingenuity and the rewards of nonconformity inform this handsome picture book, which brims with old-world charm. The villagers of Ettai are suspicious of the culinary creativity of Forri the Baker, rejecting his masterpieces-pens and candles, roses and nails, all made of dough-and forcing him into poverty. But when the barbarians known as Chlars threaten to invade Ettai and take the townsfolk prisoner, Forri arms the citizenry with loaves of bread shaped into swords, pikes, bows and arrows, thus duping the Chlars into thinking they're overmatched and beating a swift retreat. First-time children's author Myers's traditional, well-crafted narrative is tinged with humor and embellished with spry imagery (``he wore a shapeless white cloth cap that sagged over his head like a mass of unbaked dough''). Natchev's (The Hobyahs) striking artwork skillfully blends watercolors and colored pencils, fleshing out the story with a wealth of textures, shading and detail. The warm palette of oranges, reds and browns is subtly nuanced with flecks of charcoal pencil. As satisfying as a slice of freshly baked bread. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2Forri is a most unusual baker who makes bread in the shape of nails, roses, and pens, to name a few. The villagers tire of his unique vision and shun himuntil his home-baked weapons scare away an invading army. Natchev's watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations are similar to the cartoon style he used in The Hobyahs (Doubleday, 1994), and the people are round and doughy looking. The artist puts a lot of detail in each scene and is adept at giving the objects texturethe bread on the cover looks good enough to eat. The lackluster story won't satisfy readers, however. Forri's character is not developed enough to elicit any sympathy when he is ostracized or any rejoicing when he's revered, and the plot lacks depth as well. While the idea of being able to eat your weapons for breakfast is amusing, the sparse text will not hold much interest for children.Cheri Estes, Dorchester Road Regional Library, Charleston, SC
This imaginative tale with a medieval-like setting has handsome artwork and a simple, direct style. Forri the Baker prefers to make bread in unusual shapes such as roses and nails (unfortunately, the accompanying picture shows different objects). When the villagers decide that they've had enough of his odd breadstuff, Forri becomes an outcast. Then the warmongering Chlars invade. Without many weapons in the town, the blacksmith, the weaver, and the cobbler propose using the tools of their trade for defense; Forri devises a better plan. Armed with massive quantities of swords, spears, and armor--made out of bread, of course--the townspeople scare off the barbarians. A victory celebration with a delicious breakfast of crusty weapons ensues. The watercolor-and-colored pencil illustrations in earthy hues have boldly modeled figures and highly textured forms. While these scenes show the influence of Gothic artistry, they also have a whimsical quality befitting this satisfying fa"ble.