The Gingerbread Man
Kimmel, Eric A., Retold. 1993. THE GINGERBREAD MAN. Ill. by Megan Lloyd. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823408248.
In this version of the classic tale, Kimmel retells the story “once upon a time” of an old man and woman who bake and decorate a gingerbread man. The minute the last peppermint button is placed upon him, the gingerbread man jumps off the table, runs out the door exclaiming “I’ll run and run as fast as I can. You can’t catch me. I’m the gingerbread man!” With a playful smirk affixed to his face he runs past a pig, a dog, a horse, and a cow, before he meets a wily fox at the edge of the river. Trusting the fox to take him across the river, the gingerbread man moves from tail to snout at the fox’s urging, only to meet his ultimate end. Never fear, the final page brings a surprise ending that will make young children want to get up and do a happy dance and bake some gingerbread people of their very own.
Children’s mouths will water as Kimmel skillfully describes the gingerbread man’s decorative elements of “licorice eyes, a mouth made of icing, and three peppermint buttons down the front of his shirt.” They will chant along with him as the clever gingerbread man runs away from each of the animals he passes. Kimmel’s prose and Lloyd’s illustrations keep the action moving forward throughout the story as the gingerbread man dashes from page to page, stopping only at the river’s edge and the fox’s sly offer of help.
Lloyd’s attention to detail in the ink and watercolor illustrations encourages children to revisit this tale time and again to search the decorative elements on each page. The expressions on the animals faces transform from smiling to surprise as the gingerbread man escapes each scene. Each joins in the chase for the delectable treat until there is a line of all the characters chasing after the gingerbread man.
The intricate illustrations transpose to simple and calm as the gingerbread man climbs on the fox’s back for the swim across the river. The translucent shades of blue and green lull the gingerbread man and the audience into a false sense of security as the fox swims into the center of the water. With each page, Lloyd brings the action in closer and closer on the fox’s features, ending with a full page painting showing a satisfied smirk. Fear not! The final page depicts happy times once again in an ending that will especially please young children.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL review: “A book that’s sure to hold every reader and story-hour audience through to a most satisfyingly delicious ending.”
- For young students with access to a kitchen: Have children make their very own gingerbread man, using cookie dough, cutouts, and decorations. Place the cookies in the oven and go into another room to read the story. Have a helper take the cookies out at the appropriate time and hide them so the children can go on a hung their own gingerbread man.
- Invite children to chant along “I’ll run and run as fast as I can. You can’t catch me. I’m the gingerbread man!” They can also make the animal noises as the gingerbread man runs past the many animals.
- An alternate to baking cookies, follow-up reading the book with an art activity. Have each student trace a cookie cutter shape of a gingerbread man, cut it out and decorate using markers, crayons, and glue on buttons, sequins, bric a brac or other embellishments. Glue the decorated gingerbread man to a popsicle stick and the children and make them ‘run’ too.
- Read alternate versions of this classic tale. Children from Texas might enjoy The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires, illustrated by Holly Berry. Another option is The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.
Image from: Amazon