The Crowns, a ragged band of waifs, is the only family Duck has ever known—so when its sneering, verbally abusive leader proposes planting her in a bakery as an apprentice to steal food and money, she is eager to prove herself. However, Master Griselde Baker is not only sharp as a tack, but possessed of a heart and capacity for love as outsized as her exceptionally tall and sturdy body. So it isn’t long before Duck’s walls of fear and silence begin to crack, along with her resolve. In interleaved chapters Eagar lays down another, tragicomic, storyline narrated by a gloomy gargoyle that has been overlooking the town for more than a century from atop an abandoned, partly built cathedral and feeling useless while railing at pesky pigeons and insulting its fellow grotesques. The author does make these lines converge at the end in a (literally) miraculous climax, but more impressive are the ways she not only wields atmospheric language to make both her vaguely medieval, vaguely French setting and the art and craft of bread making vivid, but kneads her protagonist (the two-legged one) into a resilient, responsible soul who can stay true to everyone she loves no matter how difficult or disagreeable. The main human cast is White presenting; two supporting characters have brown skin.
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