The Gingerbread for Liberty book is a lovely way to celebrate German American Day on October 6th. This beautifully illustrated children’s book by Mara Rockliff is based on the true story of Christopher Ludwich, a German Baker who arrived in America as a young man. He became known for his delicious Gingerbread, and his motto “no one goes hungry if I can help it- Not in MY America!” Despite his age (and girth) his patriotism led him to join George Washington’s Revolutionary army. Which is where the story begins.
The Gingerbread for Liberty Book
During the Revolutionary War, The Baker wanted to help his new home gain freedom from Britain, so he joined George Washington’s army. Because he was not a young man anymore, (and he was quite round) George Washington put him to work helping in the best way he knew how, by baking bread for the troops.
Later, The Baker was put in charge of feeding Revolutionary War Prisoners Since many of which were Hessian, the Baker spoke German (their language) to them. He spoke of Befreiung (Revolution) Unabhangigkeit (Independence) and Liberty (Freeheit) and was able to convince quite a few of them to switch sides and fight for the Revolutionaries.
After the war was over, legend has it that he even baked bread for the departing British troops… although, “not a crumb of evidence” remains.
German Hero in America
It is absolutely wonderful to read a Children’s book written about German heroes in America. America is a melting pot or mixed salad, but it is so seldom that kids of German descent get to read a positive story about their people’s contributions to the formation of this country. Christopher Ludwich (Ludwig) may have just been a minor figure, but he is relate-able. I’m sure many of us can imagine our Fathers and Opas doing the same thing. And how very GERMAN! People need to eat, let’s make bread!
A Little More About the Gingerbread for Liberty Book
While the story, Gingerbread for Liberty, is good, it’s the illustrations by Vincent Kirsch that make this book shine. Drawing are done in a “paper-cut” style to resemble cut out German gingerbread or Lebkuchen. (The people really look like cookies!) Watercolors are used to bring them to life. It’s a lovely book, and engaging for kids to look at.
The real story of Christopher Ludwick is told in the Author’s note in the back of the book. He really was a kind and generous man who not only baked bread for Washington’s army, he gave food and money to the poor during the deadly Yellow Fever outbreak in Philadelphia of 1798. Although his only child died shortly after birth, he loved children, and paid for the education of the children who couldn’t afford it. Today there is still a foundation in his name that grants $200,000 a year to educate needy children.
George Washington called Christopher Ludwich a “true and faithful servant to the public“.
And bonus… there is a recipe for Gingerbread in the end papers! (I will be trying the recipe soon!)
Order the Gingerbread For Liberty Book HERE
Gingerbread for Liberty is available in Hardcover (new and used) and on Kindle for Download…
German Hero of the American Revolution for Teen Readers
Baron Von Steuben was a Prussian military officer who trained General Washington’s troops at Valley Forge. His specialized drill training gave the American soldiers new confidence to defeat the British.
Every year the Steuben Parades in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia honor the Baron. Led off by the West Point German Language Club (that was founded by Von Steuben), the parades are a celebration of German Culture in America.
More books about Germans In America
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