Book Review: The Queen Who Couldn’t Bake Gingerbread

Rating: ★★★★☆

In this disarming German folk tale, King Pilaf, monarch of Mulligatawny, realizes one morning that he needs a queen.  But, he decides, he won’t have just any queen — he must have one who can bake perfect gingerbread.  He interviews princesses from neighboring kingdoms, finding a wise, beautiful princess and a merely beautiful one, both of whom are willing to marry him but neither of which can bake gingerbread.  The last princess, Calliope, is more wise than beautiful, does not wish to marry him because she desires a husband who can play the slide trombone.  Realizing that he will not get his wish, the king decides to settle for princess wise-and-beautiful, but she has already married someone else.  He also misses his chance for the beautiful-and-unwise, and finally he and Calliope both agree to give up their aspirations.  They marry, promising never to bring up gingerbread or trombones again.  But one contentious day they break their promises, and each must decide separately how they will resolve the conflict.

The story is lighthearted, told with a cunning flair, and Paul Galdone‘s whimsical illustrations lend it just the right mood.  It’s not often that you see a romantic fable that extends past the wedding into the inevitable marital conflict.  Simple and funny as the story is, its example of commitment and fidelity comes through clearly as each spouse decides to engage in the marriage they have actually embarked on rather than the one they had envisioned.  All ends well in the kingdom of Pilaf and Calliope, and they do indeed live happily ever after.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Publication Information: van Woerkom, Dorothy. Queen Who Couldn't Bake Gingerbread, The. Galdone, Paul (Illustrator). Knopf. 1975. ISBN: 0394930339.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 04-08
Tags: , , , ,

Posted on October 18, 2011


No responses yet. You could be the first!

Leave a Response