Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stories for the Season: The Gingerbread Man/Boy/Baby

You wouldn't normally add "The Gingerbread Man" to a list of Christmas fairy tales but at a time when it's customary to build gingerbread houses and eat gingerbread cookies it's a story that easily comes to mind. To top it off, there's one author/illustrator who will confirm that this is, indeed, a story for Christmas. The much-beloved Jan Brett found a way to combine the story with the season in her book "The Gingerbread Baby"*.It's full of snow, Christmas colors and sprinkled throughout with Christmas motifs (these illustrations are packed with details!), though it isn't specifically a Christmas book (I did notice copies of Ms. Brett's book had made it to the 'children's holiday books' stand at the bookstore this year though!). While it essentially remains the traditional story of The Gingerbread Man, Ms. Brett's version has a twist children, in particular, love: the little boy outwits the gingerbread baby (and all the grownups) by baking a gingerbread house and luring the baby into it. The very last page has a flap you lift where you can see the baby safe, happy and snug in his new house, while the rest of his pursuers are left none the wiser, staring at a pile of crumbs in the snow.It's not the story with the excellent warning that the original is, of course, (I do prefer the Gingerbread Man being gulped down in one bite by the fox) but it's a sweet (pardon the pun) twist - especially when the other most current and recurring image of the gingerbread man is the version forever under threat of losing a limb (or head) from the Shrek movies. (Of course, that makes me think of a dark updating/retelling for a Christmas-thriller... but I digress.)Jan Brett was onto something and she knows it. The book is still in print, in hardcover, after ten years and Ms. Brett has catered to her enthusiastic children (and Mama) fans by making a ton of Gingerbread Baby activities available at her website. She was kind enough to put up all the links via her blog at the end of November HERE. There are bookmarks you can print out (shown in this post), cards to print & send, t-shirts to make, gingerbread houses to decorate and, of course, instructions (for paper) and recipes (for baking) for your own gingerbread houses and babies/men.You can get your own copy of the book HERE and there's also a board book available now too.

* The story can be read/told calling the 'gingerbread baby' a 'gingerbread man' too if you prefer.
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