It’s all a lark in this quick and simple version of the tale—at least until someone gets eaten.
Rodriguez retains the fugitive cookie’s traditional refrain but casts the rest of the narrative in simple, noncumulative prose: “The horse joined in the chase. The gingerbread man laughed and laughed, until he came to a river.” In the cartoon illustrations, everyone involved in the chase dashes along smiling—the gingerbread man even delivers Bronx cheers to his pursuers—until, at the end, the fox climbs out of the river and flips the horrified homunculus into his maw. The repetition in more extended renditions of the story make for stronger, more rhythmic read-alouds, but newly independent readers should trot through this one with nary a stumble…and find for reward a mouthwatering recipe at the end. As in her wordless confections (The Chicken Thief, 2010, etc.), Rodriguez’ illustrations yield amusing, attention-rewarding details: the sunbathing cow with shades and sunscreen, the oven-mitted old woman, the horse reading quietly at the bottom of the hill—and the heap that results when cow, pig and humans fall on top of it.
Not the most flavorsome retelling, but worth a nibble. (Picture book folk tale. 4-6)