What makes a gingerbread boy run amok the way he does?
One early morning Shirley can’t seem to find a dessert for her school lunch. Inspiration soon strikes. “I know! I’ll bake up something nice.” Once she takes her gingerbread treat out of the oven, she wickedly bites off a piece of his thumb. The gingerbread boy naturally doesn’t like having his digit chewed off. Hurt, he eats Shirley’s lunch as retaliation, and soon the little runaway is off through colorful San Francisco neighborhoods, snacking on anything he can get his hands on: plums and lollipops, dog bones and steaks. Kleven excels at framing her gingerbread boy’s rampage within kaleidoscope vistas. Each spread radiates vibrant, multicultural life (including a racially ambiguous, brown-skinned protagonist), and they are filled with curves, swivels, and diagonal lines to echo the gingerbread boy’s riotous behavior. At times, the story appears confined by the rhyming scheme, jamming in jarring elements (such as “a blouse, a tower, and a mouse”) to keep up appearances, but it also leads to some creative felicities. Fueled by his minor success so far, the gingerbread boy refuses to give in, exclaiming, “And if you try to make me stop, / I’ll swallow the sun like a butterscotch drop!” Only Shirley’s promise of friendship can help quiet his wounded heart.
A playful retelling of a classic folk tale, winningly illustrated. (recipe, landmark index) (Picture book. 4-8)