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With Bonus Cookie Recipe and Pattern!

The Baker’s Dozen

A Saint Nicholas Tale

Told by Aaron Shepard
Illustrated by Wendy Edelson

American Bookseller Pick of the Lists

Trumpet Book Club selection

Valerie and Walter’s Best Books for Children

Van Amsterdam the baker was well known for his honesty as well as for his fine Saint Nicholas cookies. He always gave his customers exactly what they paid for—not more and not less. So, he was not about to give in when a mysterious old woman comes to him on Saint Nicholas Day and insists that a dozen is thirteen!

The woman’s curse puts an end to the baker’s business, and he believes it would take Saint Nicholas to help him. But if he receives that help, will it be exactly what he imagined?

Find out in this inspiring legend from Dutch colonial New York about the birth of an honored American custom.

Picture book • Ages 4–12

Aaron Shepard is the award-winning author of The Baker’s Dozen, The Sea King’s Daughter, The Monkey King, and many more children’s books, while his Web site is known internationally as a prime resource for folktales, storytelling, and reader’s theater. Once a professional storyteller, Aaron specializes in lively retellings of folktales and other traditional literature, which have won him honors from the American Library Association, the New York Public Library, the Bank Street College of Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the American Folklore Society.

Wendy Edelson has applied her award-winning skills to a wide range of illustration projects, including picture books, pet portraits, posters, puzzles, and fabric design. Her clients have included Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the U.S. Postal Service, and the American Library Association.


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The Baker's Dozen (15th Anniversary Edition) ARC
(PDF, 8 MB)

The Baker's Dozen (25th Anniversary Edition) ARC
(PDF, 8 MB)

Skyhook Press

Paperback (15th Anniversary Edition) ~ 2010

Ebook ~ 2013

Hardcover (15th Anniversary Edition) ~ 2017

Paperback (25th Anniversary Edition, landscape) ~ 2018

Hardcover (25th Anniversary Edition, landscape) ~ 2018

Paperback (Special Edition) ~ 2018

Hardcover (Special Edition) ~ 2018

Simon & Schuster/Atheneum/Aladdin

Paperback ~ 1999

Hardcover ~ 1995

Other Editions

SpanishLa docena del panadero, Skyhook Press, 2023

U.K.—Simon & Schuster UK, 1995

The following links may earn commissions for this site.

| Kobo | | Apple Books |

Book cover Book cover


“The good will of legendary Saint Nick resonates in this tale about the origin of the term ‘baker’s dozen.’ . . . Shepard’s easy-to-follow retelling has an appropriate Old World flavor.”—Publishers Weekly, Sept. 18, 1995

“A particularly nice holiday story accented by paintings full of detail. . . . Well‑paced and a good length for groups or individuals, this is right on target for audiences. Edelson’s artwork is filled with marvelously alive characters who almost step from the pages.”—Ilene Cooper, American Library Association Booklist, Sept. 15, 1995

“A lush new version of a traditional tale. . . . Well‑chosen words and a nicely paced text that begs to be told aloud. A treat for the holiday season.”—School Library Journal, Oct. 1995

“Aaron Shepard retells a favorite colonial legend with the voice of the storyteller.”—Jan Lieberman, TNT, Fall 1995

“A fine tale of generosity for St. Nicholas Day or any day.”—Marilyn McPhie, Storybag, Special Review Issue 1997

“A story with a message to be heard during the holidays and all year long.”—Children’s Book Review

Sample Text

Hear This Sample Text (2:05 minutes)

In the Dutch colonial town later known as Albany, New York, there lived a baker, Van Amsterdam, who was as honest as he could be. Each morning, he checked and balanced his scales, and he took great care to give his customers exactly what they paid for—not more and not less.

Van Amsterdam’s shop was always busy, because people trusted him, and because he was a good baker as well. And never was the shop busier than in the days leading up to December 6, Saint Nicholas Day.

At that time of year, people flocked to the baker’s shop to buy his fine Saint Nicholas cookies. Made of gingerbread, iced in red and white, they looked just like Saint Nicholas as the Dutch know him—tall and thin, with a high, red bishop’s cap, and a long, red bishop’s cloak.

One Saint Nicholas Day morning, the baker was just ready for business, when the door of his shop flew open. In walked an old woman, wrapped in a long black shawl.

“I have come for a dozen of your Saint Nicholas cookies.”

Taking a tray, Van Amsterdam counted out twelve cookies. He started to wrap them, but the woman reached out and stopped him.

“I asked for a dozen. You have given me only twelve.”

“Madam,” said the baker, “everyone knows that a dozen is twelve.”

“But I say a dozen is thirteen,” said the woman. “Give me one more.”

Van Amsterdam was not a man to bear foolishness. “Madam, my customers get exactly what they pay for—not more and not less.”

“Then you may keep the cookies.”

The woman turned to go, but stopped at the door.

“Van Amsterdam! However honest you may be, your heart is small and your fist is tight. Fall again, mount again, learn how to count again!

Then she was gone.

Now in Spanish!


Un cuento de San Nicolás

Contado por Aaron Shepard
Ilustraciones por Wendy Edelson
Traducido por Annette Granat

Skyhook Press

Paperback ~ 2023

Hardcover ~ 2023

Ebook ~ 2023

The following links may earn commissions for this site.

| Kobo | | Apple Books |

Book cover: La docena del panadero

Download a free copy of this book!
(PDF, 8 MB)

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