Run, Run Gingerbread Boy!

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Kid's Book Elisa Kleven Gingerbread Boy


The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy: A San Francisco Story by Elisa Kleven is a wonderful newly-imagined romp through a classic tale. Everybody knows the Gingerbread Man tale and each generation has a retelling of the same story, ie cookie comes to life, causes mayhem, ends abruptly, usually in someone’s stomach. In this version of the folk tale, we are allowed a completely unique look at the boy who cried ginger and a bold location with a ton of personality.

The first and most striking element of this book is the art. The images jump off the page with vibrant reds, blues and yellows, free-flowing, fluid lines, and tons of detail snuck into every corner. As the book gives you a tour through the lively city of San Francisco, you get a feeling for an exciting, buzzing community that is built upon the hilly landscape. The reader can absolutely tell the author has a love for The City By the Bay. What better place for the Gingerbread Boys adventure than through Chinatown, the World’s Most Crooked Road, along the Cable Cars, over the Golden Gate Bridge and through the Conservatory of Flowers? The drawings flow across the page in an intricate dance of words and colors. The tightly curled details that jam pack every page is almost overwhelming to take in. My 3 year old son likes to spend time just gazing at the pictures, enamored.

Outside of the art, the story speaks of this Gingerbread Boy that jumps right off of the protagonist Shirley’s baking tray and begins his tour of the City. With an insatiable hunger, hence the title, the Gingerbread Boy rapidly gets himself in trouble by trying to eat everything in sight. He runs around town starting simple enough with stealing plums and lollipops, but things escalate quickly to him attempting to eat everything including the fog. The highlight of the story is, instead of the Gingerbread boy getting gobbled up, Shirley explains that she wants him to calm down and they can be BFFs if he just chills out. It’s a great moral tale of forgiveness and companionship, as well as the highlight tour of the sights. The books ends with a recipe for gingerbread and a more detailed explanation of each location visited.

Overall, the book is adorable. It’s perfect for 3-5 year olds who are just learning to read and truly appreciate bold drawings. Even better, it also appeals to the adults reading it to theirchildren. Seeing the iconic sights and smiling at the wild imagery of the words was wonderful. My favorite sentence by far was, “I’ll eat a ribbon-candy street and spoon up fog like cream of wheat!” How incredibly fantastical and vivid is that statement! It’s a solid kid’s book and worth the pick up.

TL;DR: Lots of fun, silliness and imagery with this Gingerbread boy’s tour of San Fran. Go read it!

4.0 / 5.0