Several legends have grown around the Italian bread, panettone. It’s a type of sweet bread loaf originally from Milan, usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year, and is one of the symbols of the city of Milan. One tale goes back to 15th-century Milan. A nobleman loved the daughter of a poor baker named Toni and wished to marry her. To win her father’s approval, the nobleman disguised himself as a baker and invented a rich bread to which he added flour and yeast, butter, eggs, dried raisins, and candied lemon and orange peel. It’s this tale that dePaola retells for pre-schoolers and early elementary kids in Tony’s Bread, admitting that he has taken “great liberties” with the story.
Tony is a baker in a small town who dreams of opening a bakery in Milan and become famous. Tony has a daughter, Serafina, whom he loves and treats like a princess. Serafina wants to get married, but Tony doesn’t think any man is good enough for her. One day, a nobleman, Angelo, comes to town and sees Serafina and it is love at first sight for both of them. Three women in town, the three aunties, tell Angelo all about Tony and Serafina.
Angelo takes Tony and his daughter to Milan, but Tony is depressed by all the fine breads and pastries in the bakeries, thinking he would be a laughingstock if he opened a bakery there. That is until, with help from Angelo and Serafina, he comes up with a new recipe.
“I shall make the riches, lightest, most wonderful bread anyone has ever tasted— out of the whitest flour, the biggest eggs, the creamiest milk, the sweetest candied fruit and the plumpest raisins,” Tony shouted.
And the new bread is a hit. Angelo and Serafina have a small, quiet wedding while outside the crowds called for pan di Tonio – Tony’s bread. And panettone is still eaten and enjoyed today.
It’s a cute story, but I tend to like dePaola’s style. It’s simple and happy. The illustrations are lively and colorful and capture the warmth of the people, especially the meddling aunties.
I think it would be a wonderful treat next Christmastime to serve panettone for breakfast and read this story.
3½ out of 5 stars
Category: Fairytales and Folklore
Published October 24, 1989
Book source: Library
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.