Book Review: The Gingerbread Boy

Rating: ★★★★☆

In a hilariously reinvented fairy tale, a modern New York couple decide that, since they have no children, the wife will make a gingerbread boy.  Their Manhattan apartment fills with the sweet aroma until the gingerbread boy leaps from oven and out the window.  Although they plead with him to come back, he throws back the traditional taunt: “Run run run as fast as you can.  You can’t catch me! I’m the Gingerbread Man.”  The two tumble down the fire escape in hot pursuit, and the chase begins.  Along his journey, instead of meeting the usual assortment of barnyard animals and country workers, he encounters a city rat, construction workers, street musicians (he loses them in the subway), and a policeman on horseback who hollers “Stop in the name of the law!”  Finally, at the foot of Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, he meets a fox who slyly offers to carry him across the fountain… to his traditional ending.

This ingenious interpretation of the story retains the original version’s high spirit, but expresses it in the context of a big-city world which is portrayed with a cunning eye for detail.  From the bored expressions of commuters to the pair of men’s briefs hanging on an alleyway clothesline, the flight of this edible urbanite provides plenty of wit to satisfy its young audience, while also amusing their parents.

Not everyone will love this modern version, which alters the naive aesthetic of the traditional story, but readers who like this kind of innovation will especially enjoy Egielski’s clever sophistication.  My only quibble is that the young wife’s above-the-knee skirt sometimes hikes a little high in the course of the pell-mell race.  If this doesn’t bother you, the story is definitely worth checking out.

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Publication Information: Egielski, Richard. Gingerbread Boy, The. HarperCollins. 1997. ISBN: 0064437086.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 04-08
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Posted on December 10, 2010

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