Title: The Gingerbread Girl
Author & Illustrator: Lisa Campbell Ernst
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Word Count: 1189 (+ 58-word ‘Prequel’)
Summary: Just like her brother the Gingerbread Boy, the Gingerbread Girl runs away from the lonely couple who made her, but she’s determined to avoid his fate.
This is a good book to examine the element of Pattern. The whole story is based on the fable of the Gingerbread Boy, and repeats the pattern laid out in his story: he runs away, encounters various animals and people who want to eat him, taunts them with his rhyme, and runs away until he meets a devious fox who tricks him into getting eaten.
Like her brother, the Gingerbread Girl taunts those chasing her. It starts with the little old man and woman who made her, and the simple rhyme that becomes the refrain on every page:
“I’ll run and I’ll run
With a leap and a twirl.
You can’t catch me,
I’m the Gingerbread Girl!”
Every time she meets a new threat, the Gingerbread Girl sings a personalized taunt (eg.
“Hey, Farmers, don’t bother!
Like my brother, I’m fast!
Run all you want,
But I’ve learned from his past!”)
before continuing on with her teasing refrain.
This continues until she meets the fox, and finally changes both her refrain and the pattern laid out by her brother’s story (but I’m not going to tell you how – you’ll have to read the book and see).
Pattern is also visible in the illustration. Each spread (except the first and last) is split into a page of text and a page of illustration. The illustration page is an image of the Gingerbread Girl encountering new people/animals who want to eat her, while a banner across the top of the text page shows the rest of the people chasing her. As the story progresses more and more people and animals join the chase, until there are 30 pursuers above the text watching her encounter with the fox.
My sons love the repetition of the Gingerbread Girl’s song, and always gleefully finish the refrain for me. It’s a cute little story, and one of the only holiday books that I didn’t pack away for the season.