Breathing Life into Bread is Making History – Cardinal Rule Press
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Breathing Life into Bread is Making History

What the Bread Says has been such a gift.  

The book is about my grandfather and how he taught me the family story – his story and history – as we baked bread. It’s about the stories that swam around our kitchen while the bread rose and while it set and while it baked in our humming oven. This story is about the breaths (those quiet beats of time) we have in family and found-family life. Those moments of quiet and waiting that, in my case, that were filled with the past which had brought us to the present.  

My grandfather had escaped three tyrannies – he escaped Franco in Spain, by crossing the Pyrenes Mountains on foot at 13 with his brother, Pedro. He escaped Hitler on a ship with Jewish kids fleeing for their lives. And then he escaped Fidel Castro, one of the hardest of all, because there are some out there at that still insist on calling Castro and people like Che Guevara heroes, despite the horror the led and all they those they killed. It’s hard when others who do not know the story insist on a story that was fabricated out of propaganda. Which is really why oral history is so important because no one can tell you that you didn’t live what you lived, that your history is not your history. History is built in the kitchens of families and that’s not an overstatement. That’s very real.  

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My experience with this book out in the world has been one of grace. It’s what we share at the table. The stories I’ve had teachers tell me and children tell me, of families that have shared history for the first time; mothers and grandmothers and grandfathers and dads that have shared parts of themselves for themselves for the first time because of this book, and, thereby, have made history – that is MAGIC.  Those are the moments when I feel the spirit of my grandfather the most. 

The stories that I have heard as I have gone around sharing this book have been about Haiti, and about Israel, and about Germany, and about Switzerland, and about the Philippines, and about Japan! And they’ve been about the flesh and blood people who lived in and through these stories. Many have told me about war, about fleeing terrible situations, but also about building and the resilience of life! They’ve told me the story of building new lives, constructing new kitchens, making history from the lived; telling stories out of breath, which is life, which is what’s in bread – that’s the soul of all of this; this book.  

For me, that’s what this book has been about from the start, and also the core of the gifts it has returned – all the stories that now swim in the kitchen of my mind that I will hold forever because of my Papan who decided to share with me. I shared that with the world and the world spoke back. How beautiful is that? 

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Vanessa Garcia is a Cuban-American multidisciplinary writer -- screenwriter, playwright, novelist, and journalist/essayist -- who has written and worked for Sesame Street, where she’s been nominated for an Emmy (Monster Meditation), and won two Telly Awards (Tamir On the Street). She’s also worked on Caillou; Behind the Beats (a French animated show about the history of music), and other shows. She’s the author of the novel, White Light, which won an International Latino Book Award and was one of NPRs best books of 2015. Her first Picture Book for children, What the Bread Says, launched October 1, 2022. Instagram: vanessagarciawriter Website: www.vanessagarcia.org

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