Final Thoughts: The Gingerbread Man

Run, run as fast as you can.
You can’t catch me,
I’m the gingerbread man!

Richard Scarry, The Gingerbread Man

I recently read Richard Scarry’s version of The Gingerbread Man. It was originally part of his book Richard Scarry’s Animal Nursery Tales, but the version I have is a stand alone story published as a small Little Golden Book. It’s a pretty straightforward retelling of this classic fairy tale about a runaway cookie.

The illustrations are so much fun. It’s peopled by a classic Richard Scarry cast of anthropomorphized animals dressed in little outfits and living in a little village. The cookie is baked by a little pig lady in a pink dress with a white apron and cap and then he is chased by various other creatures whose everyday lives his passage interrupts. It’s cute and cozy and a lot of fun to read.

I love how much expression Scarry gives his characters. They may all be living in an idyllic little animal world, but they express such shock when the cookie runs away and then again when the Fox eats him. I find it interesting that the story reinforces the idea that Foxes, no matter how properly dressed, are still opportunistic tricksters! Everyone else is living an upstanding and productive life, but he’s tricking poor cookies into being eaten. (Or not so poor cookies, since the cookie himself is a braggart and a runaway, but you know…)

This is a very short and adorable picture book with a very classic retelling of this story, but it is fun to see Scarry’s spin on the tale. Even something as small as setting it in his busy animal world, so familiar from so many of his other books, gives the story a new twist. I really enjoyed it!

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