Apple Cake and Baklava is the first children’s book by German writer Kathrin Rohmann. The book attracted my attention with its tasty name, and when I read the blurb, I knew I’d love it. It is about the extraordinary friendship between Leila, who is the daughter of a Syrian family that has just settled in Germany, and her classmate Max. This book will be an excellent choice for everyone, especially children.
Apple Cake and Baklava tells the story of a family who escaped the war in Syria and came to Germany with a thousand difficulties. When Leila leaves Syria, she has to leave her beloved grandmother behind. Her grandmother gives her a walnut as a souvenir. In this walnut, Leila finds Syria, her grandmother and the beautiful garden where that walnut is from. But she loses the walnut at school, and when she thinks she’s lost everything about her grandmother and Syria, Max enters her life.
We know more or less about the conditions under which refugees leave their country and how difficult their lives in their new homes. However, do we think about how the children survive all this?
Apple Cake and Baklava should be on every reading list for children. And there are recipes at the end of the book too! Read it with your children and try the recipes together. You’ll love it.
About the book: Apple Cake and Baklava
Leila is the new girl in Max’s class in rural Germany, and they soon become close friends. She has fled Syria with her family, having left her beloved grandmother and father behind. Her most cherished object is a walnut from her grandmother’s garden. Max is close to his own grandmother, who is very understanding of Leila’s situation, having fled her home in Pommern as a little girl. Leila is desperately sad when she loses her beloved walnut and, in a failed attempt, sets out to return to Syria.
Apple Cake and Baklava is a story about otherness, openness and the willingness to come to know one another. Many children will be aware of the latest surge of refugees and their plight. Leila’s is a sadly universal and timeless story of leaving behind a home country forever. While set in rural Northern Germany, it could equally take place in most European countries.
This is an absorbing book for older primary and younger middle-school children, and Franziska Harvey’s lovely black-and-white illustrations – some small, some full page – enrich the story.
About the author: Kathrin Rohmann
Kathrin Rohmann was born in 1967. In addition to her career as an agricultural engineer, she has published stories for young readers in publications such as GECKO and Kinder-ZEIT, and for Bavarian Broadcasting. Apple Cake and Baklava is her first children’s book.