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Reviewed by Asher Syed 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.