Lily wants to be like her big sister, Margaret. She wants to work in the bakery and make the best Daily Bread. She’s still too small to reach the table for kneading the dough, but she tags along anyway and learns the skills she needs to be a good baker. Working in the early mornings, lunch hour and after school, the girls managed to provide bread for the Taglia family, who live in a crowded tenement apartment, struggling as all immigrants did in 1911. It was a hard life, but with good family and good friends, they survive. But, when Margaret declares she wants to go to high school, friction in the family ignites. Mama doesn’t see the benefits of educating a girl who will only grow up, get married, and raise children. How times have changed!
Antoinette Truglio Martin’s historical fiction novel, Daily Bread, provides insight into the lives of immigrants to North America in the early twentieth century. She weaves a plot of hope and hard work, taking stories from her own family history to make this story really come to life. The characters are very well developed and the conflicts these immigrants faced are carefully revealed, like bullying, prejudice, and unfair work practices. The story borders on being creative non-fiction, as the reader easily relates to the strong work ethic of these early immigrants. The setting is described with care, and the reader can almost smell and taste the goodness within the bakery and cringe when the young bakers must deal with maggoty flour. Powerful imagery in this compassionate look at a bygone era. Beautifully told.
Reviewed By: Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite
Daily Bread by Antoinette Truglio Martin is a moving children’s historical story that recounts immigrants’ challenging experiences in America through an Italian family’s experiences. Like many others before them, the Taglia family settles in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the hope of a brighter future during the early part of the 20th century. Lily accompanies her older sister, Margaret, to learn how to bake bread in a bakery run by a friendly, kind Jewish couple. Despite the punishing winter seasons, the neighborhood bullies, a mean teacher, and other heart-breaking experiences, Lily does not lose her spark. Spinning everything into melodic songs, she lights up every place that she goes. The future holds little promise for the bright, determined Margaret. Still, she holds on to the dream of making something greater out of her life.
Through the stories of the members of the Taglia family and other characters in the book, Daily Bread is a powerful reminder of the grueling experiences that immigrants had to navigate. The young characters’ strength is nothing short of inspiring. To help lighten their parents’ load, they arrive early at the bakery to knead the dough before school and have to return later in the day. Despite the bleakness of their future and numerous other discouraging hurdles, they continue to show up and support their family. The story discusses important themes such as poverty, women’s education, family relationships, child labor, racism, and bullying. It also contains helpful resources that include a list of definitions, discussion prompts, suggestions for research projects, and a list of further resources. Through Antoinette Truglio Martin’s skilfully written piece, Daily Bread, young readers will have an opportunity to relive and learn from the characters’ immigration experiences.
Reviewed By Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite
Daily Bread by Antoinette Truglio Martin is a children’s chapter book that follows the story of young Sicilian-American Liboria “Lily” Taglia. Lily, her older sister Margaret, and the rest of their working-class family are bound by the mutual respect each has for their roles and responsibilities. Margaret has been working at the Goldberg-owned Daily Bread bakery since she was tall enough to reach the table, bringing home the much-needed discounted loaves. Lily too has made her debut as something of a Daily Bread apprentice, singing her heart out at all the wrong moments and bringing joy to Mrs. Goldberg, who is occasionally in short supply. The harsh realities of 1911 New York tenement living has not yet touched Lily’s warm spirit, but the secrets of her employers, the introduction of churlish management, and the dangers of the Taglia family’s primary source of income on the docks may just be the final maggot that spoils the flour.
Daily Bread is a fantastic work of children’s historical fiction and the sights, sounds, and scents of Victorian New York are brought to life by the prose of Antoinette Truglio Martin. I instantly fell in love with Lily and Margaret, who is wise and responsible far beyond her years, and also Mrs. Goldberg, who is profoundly generous and has an almost childlike innocence to her. Still, the difficulties are not brushed aside and when one of the girls at Daily Bread moves on, happily sacrificing school and baking for a better salary, it is one of those moments when you forget how young these characters are and how very sad is their inability to have the type of childhood as we understand it today. Lily shines throughout the book even in the hardest of times; her songs, optimism, and outlook bucking the seriousness of the real world in a way that makes a reader want to cheer for her throughout. This is a wonderful book that will serve young readers well as both a glance into the past and as a tale of grit, love, and incredible strength.
Reviewed By Asher Syed for Readers’ Favorite