In Murray’s children’s debut, when a gingerbread man made by schoolchildren gets left behind at recess, he decides he has to find his class: “I’ll run and I’ll run, / As fast as I can. / I can catch them! I’m their / Gingerbread Man!”
And so begins his rollicking rhyming adventure as he runs, limps, slides and skips his way through the school, guided on his way by the friendly teachers he meets. Flattened by a volleyball near the gym, he gets his broken toe fixed by the kindly nurse and then slides down the railing into the art teacher’s lunch. Then it’s off to the principal’s office, where he takes a spin in her chair before she arrives. “The children you mentioned just left you to cool. / They’re hanging these posters of you through the school.” The principal takes him back to the classroom, where the children all welcome him back. The book’s comic-book layout suits the elementary-school tour that this is, while Lowery’s cartoon artwork fits the folktale theme. Created with pencil, screen printing and digital color, the simple illustrations give preschoolers a taste of what school will be like. While the Gingerbread Man is wonderfully expressive, though, the rather cookie-cutter teachers could use a little more life.
Teachers looking for a new way to start off the school year will eat this one up. (Picture book. 4-7)