by Jim Aylesworth
Illustrated by Barbara McClintock
(Scholastic Press, 1998)
The Gingerbread Man (or The Gingerbread Boy) story is an often told story with many variations. A gingerbread tale is a cumulative tale and some variants changes the gingerbread man to a pancake or other "runaway" food. In each of the stories the title character is attempting to run away from its maker. in each of the stories a series of other animals or people attempt to catch the title character. The character chants a refrain that makes him/her known as the fastest or cleverest of them all. In most of the tales those animals or people who take up the chase abandon the chase when the next group enters the story. The character finally meets his match when he comes across a crafty fox who tricks him into a position where he is gobbled down. Reading the following titles for comparison and contrast purposes will uncover similarities and differences in the tales.
Some of the following titles are out-of-print but will be available in many public and local libraries and will be worth the search to seek them out.
Cook, Scott. The Gingerbread Boy. Dragonfly, 1996 (paperback).
Egielski, Richard. The Gingerbread Boy. HarperCollins, 1997. (An Urban city and includes a recipe.)
Galdone, Paul. The Gingerbread Boy.. Clarion, 1979
Kimmel, Eric. The Gingerbread Man. Illustrated by Megan Lloyd. Holiday House, 1994. (Variant ending has gingerbread people returning each time someone bakes a batch.)
Lobel, Anita. The Pancake. Morrow, 1978.
"The Pancake." In The Arbuthnot Anthology of Children's Literature. 3rd ed. Scott, Foresman, 1971.
Rockwell, Anne. "The Gingerbread Man." In The Three Bears and 15 Other Stories. Crowell, 1975; Harper Trophy, 1984.
In each of the above tales the gingerbread boy/man gets eaten. But a tale with a variant ending might stimulate some other retellings. Read:
Brett, Jan. Gingerbread Baby (Putnam, 1999) and discuss how the ending has changed.
After comparing and contrasting the story grammar and discussion how the details of the story can change the retelling make a story outline that might fit all of the stories read from the above lists.
For an exciting "runaway" story hour combine The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth with:
Kimmel, Eric. When Mindy Saved Hanukkah. Scholastic Press, 1998.; and
Kimmelman, Leslie. The Runaway Latkes. iIllustrated by Paul Yalowitz. Albert Whitman. 2000.
Rebecca's easy recipe is included in this book so finish your story hour with a tasty gingerbread man or a latke. Either or both will be a tasty culmination.
Choose a geographical setting, for example, Japan, and then write a version of the story that includes details that would provide readers with an idea that the story was taking place in that country. Those chasing the gingerbread man might be workers from a rice field. If the setting is in Florida those chasing might be workers who are picking oranges in an orange grove.
Change the season in which the story is taking place. If the season is winter (in a place where there is snow and ice) the gingerbread man might find himself being chased by neighbors who are shoveling their walks or boys and girls who have been throwing snow balls. The most significant result of this cold and snowy setting might even change the ending as certainly the stream that the fox takes the gingerbread man across will be frozen. How will that change the ending?
Other "runaway" tales with elements similar to "The Gingerbread Man." The variations contain some elements of their country of origin; Steel's is a Scottish version while Brown retells a tale from Russia. The "Johnny Cake" variations are generally thought to be English in origin. In Sawyer's Journey Cake, Ho! the ending takes a different twist.
Brown, Marcia. The Bun: A Tale from Russia. Harcourt, 1972.
Haviland, Virginia. "Johnny Cake." In Favorite Fairy Tales Told in England. Little, Brown, 1959.
Jacobs, Joseph. "Johnny Cake." In Tomie dePaola's Favorite Nursery Tales, by Tomie dePaola. Putnam, 1986.
Sawyer, Ruth. Journey Cake, Ho! Illustrated by Robert McCloskey. Viking, 1953.
Steel, Flora Annie. "The Wee Bannock." In English Fairy Tales. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Macmillan, 1962 (1918).
Read a poem "The Gingerbread Man" by Rowena Bennett. This poem can be found in an anthology of poems: Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems collected by Beatrice Schenk deRegniers (Scholastic Press, 1988). The poem is a great example of using the poetic form to tell a story that others have told in prose.
Extend the poetry and prose connection by reading various versions of "The Little Red Hen" and then reading "The Mouse, the Frog and the Little Red Hen," a poem written anonymously and shared in a collection A Book of a Thousand Poems with an introduction by J. M. MacBain (Peter Bedrick Books, 1983). The poem can also be found in Side by Side: Poems to Read Together collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, with illustrations by Hilary Knight (Simon & Schuster, 1988).
As a group write a poem telling the story of another popular nursery tale which your class enjoys.
Aylesworth, Jim. The Gingerbread Man. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Scholastic Press, 1998. 32 pages. ISBN: 0590972197.