Some peripatetic gingerbread men make a believer of a skeptical grade schooler.
Mrs. Gray’s class has been listening to variations on “The Gingerbread Man” all week in preparation for a cooking activity. Marshall knows it’s all hooey—cookies can’t run. The kids mix, cut and decorate before Mrs. Gray “locks” the gingerbread men in the oven…but when the oven is opened, the cookies have vanished. A series of rhymed clues takes the kids around the school in pursuit. Though initially Marshall suspects that Mrs. Gray has cooked up a literacy exercise to get between the kids and their cookies, a stray raisin makes him wonder—and then he notices hundreds of gingerbread footprints on the floor of the gym. Those “G-men” must be napping in the doll corner after all that running! Durand has created an attractive protagonist in Marshall; his skepticism is exactly age-appropriate, as is his pride in the way he “rocks” the dough. Small’s loose, line-and-watercolor cartoons feature a freckled, redheaded Caucasian boy with expressive eyebrows. (Mrs. Gray is also white, but her classroom is multiethnic.) There’s something a little half-baked about the story, though; although the buildup to the discovery of the cookies is effective, the denouement sags: Just what is going to happen to all these apparently sentient cookies? A closing vignette showing Marshall about to bite his cookie’s head off is downright disquieting.
Cute concept; uneven execution. (Picture book. 5-8)