Book Review: The Gingerbread Boy

Rating: ★★★★☆

Paul Galdone brings us another cheery, faithful rendering of a classic fairy tale.  In it, an old woman decides to bake a gingerbread boy, but when she opens the oven he leaps out and runs away, chanting a repetitive “catch me if you can!” jingle to everyone he meets.  He gathers a salivating crowd behind him and is running merrily along when he meets a fox, who slyly offers to carry him across the river on his tail.  As the water rises, the Gingerbread Boy is gradually enticed closer and closer to the fox’s mouth and then (spoiler alert) he is gobbled up, to the disappointment of all his pursuers.

Galdone delivers his tale with lively nursery-room repetition, as the Gingerbread Boy taunts everyone with the same words and the story builds along with the hungry crowd.  While some sensitive children might be disappointed when the Gingerbread Boy finally goes “the way of every single gingerbread boy that ever came out of an oven,” once they are over the initial shock they may even envy the fox, who enjoys this delightful confection.  If they can get their hands on a gingerbread boy of their own they may be inclined to re-enact the story.

Because Galdone chooses the term “gingerbread boy” instead of “gingerbread man,” the runner’s taunt doesn’t quite rhyme, and for this reason some readers may prefer a story which refers to the cookie as “man.”  Still, this is a great fit for preschoolers and early elementary listeners, and makes a good read-alone as well.

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Publication Information: Galdone, Paul. Gingerbread Boy, The. Sandpiper. 1975. ISBN: 0899191630.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 00-04, Honey For a Child's Heart
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Posted on December 8, 2010

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