Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Run! Run! Fast As You Can!"

I don't know what it is that makes me love The Gingerbread Man so much. In the children's books he is kinda, sorta obnoxious and meets with an unhappy fate. Yet, the magical image of him popping out of the oven and taunting that poor old man and that shocked old woman outweighs all else and I am in love.

It may also be that I remember my Oma telling me this story when I was an impressionable kinder yuden. He is the original bad boy. And doesn't everyone fall for the bad boy? Plus, he is cute and witty as the world witnessed with the Shrek "not my gumdrop buttons" movies.

During the past two weeks I have been sharing different variations of this story with my first graders. Once they know the basic story we get into the fine differences (or not so fine) to compare the stories, read together, act them out and do some extension activities.

One activity I have done in years past has been to go up to our cooking room to bake and decorate these little guys ourselves. After we bring them back to the classroom and the students go to lunch I get busy. I hide all of their gingerbread men and leave a note for the children that reads "Run, Run, Fast as you can! You can't catch me. I'm the Gingerbread Man. I have run to Rebecca's office (our principal). Catch me there."

Everyone is "in on it" so that when we arrive in Rebecca's office she tells the kids that they just missed them but there is a note. The note directs the students to a new destination in the building and we are once again on the chase. We make several stops until finally being directed back to the classroom where the cookies have been set up with glasses of milk for the children to enjoy. The best part is that in our search the kids are sure that they catch a glimpse of the gingerbread men. It is all terribly exciting and fun. Well, I enjoy it.

I thought I would share some of my favorite versions of this classic story and the clever variations from some talented authors and illustrators.

The Gingerbread Man with pictures by Karen Schmidt.

This is my favorite illustration of Gingy; bright, colorful, plump and delicious. All of the illustrations are just delightful. Children are drawn to them. In this version GM meets his fate at the hands of a clever fox who feigns a hearing loss to get The Gingerbread Man to come closer. This section has the best pictures! The story ends with the fox wiping the crumbs away from his mouth. Yum.

The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth.

This is also a pretty straight forward retelling of this classic fairy tale that ends the same way as the book above. The cool thing about this book is that The Gingerbread Man is flat. You can see clearly that he is a cookie that has jumped from a cookie sheet. Jim Aylesworth's illustrations invoke an old world feel.

The layout of the print is also helpful. The oft repeated refrain "Run! Run!..." is always printed in bold print as is all of the dialogue. This makes it easy for young children to know when to join in or read along.

Plus, there is a recipe for making your very own cookies on the back cover.

The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski.

This version changes the setting of the story from the country to New York City. This is especially meaningful to my students who recognize many of the places The Gingerbread Boy visits such as the E train (subway) and Central Park. I am not sure how to describe the artwork but it reminds me of the paintings that J.J. created on the old TV show "Good Times". Really fun. And where else can you find The Gingerbread Boy chased by a rat?

It ends with the classic 'crossing the lake' scenario that finds another clever fox licking his lips.

The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.

Cute, cute, cute. Again the setting has shifted, this time to the mountains. Exquisite drawings give previews to the coming scenes and a surprise is waiting at the end.

The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith.

A riot! In this story a lonely old man and woman decide to make a man out of stinky cheese. However, he is more than they bargained for and when they check to see if he is done the smell knocks them out. Undeterred The Stinky Cheese Man runs off (but no one is chasing him). He meets various characters along the way, none of whom want anything to do with him. This poor guy can't get anyone to pursue him. The tale ends with a river crossing but the fox does not consume our stinky friend. He is so repulsed by the "funky smell" that he gags, causing The Stinky Cheese to plunge into the water where he falls apart. Not a huge loss but you gotta admire his determination.

The Runaway Dinner by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman.

This is not a true Gingerbread Man story since there is no baking of cookies but it is in the spirit of the above stories. In this book a boy chases his sausage around town. Great artwork and an inviting story. I am especially in love with the peas and the fries who speak French.

Au Revior!


kimy said...

"In this book a boy chases his sausage around town." I am speechless is there really a response. thank you herr doktor!

MONA said...

LOL! This is one of my most favouritest character too!
I had no Idea that they had so many versions of the story! They should mane a collection of all adventures of Gingerbread Man now!

I loved him as represented in Shrek II

la bellina mammina said...

HOw cute is that - to get the kids to go on a wild 'gingerbread' man run! ;-)
I didn't know there are so many different versions and story books on him..

Gary said...

Kimy - Well, when you put it like that it just sounds wrong...but very funny! Not much difference there with how men behave.

Mona - Isn't he great. There are so many version of all the classic fairy tales. Another favorite is Little Red Riding Hood because many countries have their own take on it. I am thinking I should share those at a later point in time as well.

La Bellina - Any time I can get the kids out and moving on some exciting adventure I am there.

Salty Miss Jill said...

What a clever idea with the chasing of the gingerbread man. Maybe you can do the same thing, only with a sausage- as a variation on the last book?

heehee...no seriously...very cute!

ciara said...

the kids and i loved gingy in shrek....hmmm though my oldest daughter is a bit beyond these books, i'm sure that both my girls would love them. i'm gonna have to look for them in the library that is opening up soon here :) now are town is almost complete...a corner market, a dentist office, and a library! lol

lmao @ kimy

Joy said...

The Gingerbread is all well and good, but why no mention of the Muffin man? You know, THE Muffin Man.

Junk Thief said...

Hansel and Gretel was another surreal kids and food book. I always wanted to grow up to be the old woman/witch. How mean of you and the principal to lead those poor kiddos on like that! They'll get wise to your tricks one day, but it sounds like they are having fun all the same.

Gary said...

Joy, Do you know the muffin man?

Joy said...

Yes... I know the Muffin Man. mwhahahahahahaha

Scot said...

I LOVE the ginger-bread hunt. Maybe you can do a sausage chase for Octoberfest and end up with the sausages and root beer back in the room.

The story I knew as a kid ended with the river crossing. Somehow I have it linked in my mind with The Little Red Hen and "Not I said the fax." Not sure if it's the animals in common or if we alays just read them together.

Scot said...

That's "Not I said the fox". Anyone communicating by fax wouldn't have helped kneed the dough anyway.

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Darn you! Now I'm hungry. If you weren't so handsome I'd be mad at you...

lettuce said...

what a great post - i've missed your blog in all my busyness.

I love the stinky cheese man - one of our faves too. Don't know the Ahlberg one but i must look it out, i like the look of it.

Its true what you say about the original bad boy, i'd never thought about it. You are cuter though. Your gingerbread man hunt sounds great, what a brilliant idea.

do do do do a post on little red riding hood. I do some stuff on that with undergrads (Angela CArter and all that) but kids versions are probably even more fun.

what about baba yaga? shes one of my faves. I read a great baba yaga book not so long ago.... might have been Susan Price - hmmm i will look it out.

Gary said...

Thanks Salty Miss. See, you may be on to something!

Ciara - Hey, that is some rocking town you got there. Where are you located, it could turn into quite the tourist attraction. (Kimy had me laughing too.)

JT - The ideas for JT-TV just keep coming! I love the visual image of the candy house from Hansel and Gretel and that this story also gave us the 'leaving a trail of bread crumbs' idea but, that is really an awful story. My favorite version of this one is the Little Critter's Hansel and Gretel by Mercer Mayer. It is a lift-the-flap book which always goes over big with me.

Joy - OH! THAT Muffin Man. Okay, I am going to change the subject because I don't think this one lives on Drury Lane.

Scot (Not Scott) - Thanks for dropping by. I do not think that there is a fox (or a fax, lol) in The Little Red Hen but it is another great story of payback! In my experience The Little Red Hen is most confused with Henny Penny. It happens again and again. If this wasn't my life (for better or worse) I am sure I would confuse more than those stories. They all have so much in common -- those poor children always in the path of danger.

BTW - I love the falling 'T' on your banner.

JDZS - You may be hungry but if I know you at all I know that you have the will power to fight back the craving. 40 is approaching!

Lettuce - Well, since the public is crying out for a Little Red Riding Hood post I will give in to the demand and get to work. ;)
But seriously, I love to compare all of these stories that have hung around forever. Your class sounds interesting.

I am not familiar with Baby Yaga but after doing some research I read a description of one that seems somewhat familiar. I could not find a Baby Yaga however that was linked to Susan Price. If you find out more information please pass it along. Thanks.

Steve said...

Wow. Your activity sounds great, baking the cookies and having the kids hunt them down. I don't remember school EVER being that fun!

Gary said...

Steve - Thanks. Learning should be fun, right? It's where we bring in motivation and ownership of the material. Hopefully this spirit will stay with the children as they encounter more challenging tasks in the coming years.

lettuce said...

i'll search out the susan price book. Its baba, not baby yaga - a witch who lives in a hut on chicken legs. I think the fairy story has esp. eastern european (Russian?) derivations.

have you read Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber?

Pod said...

you must read angela carter! the magic toyshop is superb.

and have you seen this?

Gary said...

Lettuce and Pod - I am going right from here to my amazon wishlist to add both of these books. Thanks.

Pod - Great commerical. Once I was over on YouTube I started clicking on a bunch of Gingerbread Man videos. He really is a popular guy!

Maria said...

I have also heard of the Run Away Tortilla. I will be shopping for that soon.


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