Thursday, March 24, 2011

Picture Book: The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernest

Summary of The Gingerbread Girl:  
Everyone is familiar with the sad story of the Gingerbread Boy.  It has been a year since his untimely demise at the mouth of the wily fox!  Despite the lonely elderly couple's fear of losing another Gingerbread Child, they resolves to bake again.  This time they dress a Gingerbread Girl with candies from head to toe and create a brilliant licorice whip hairdo for her.  As the Gingerbread Girl bakes in the oven, she overhears the couple reminisce about the Gingerbread Boy.  She determines, “Sweet or not…things will be different this time.”   When it is time for the cookie to be done, the little old woman carefully opens the door and peeks inside.  BAM!  Out jumps the Gingerbread Girl.  She calls back to them:

I’ll run and I’ll run
With a leap and a twirl.
You can’t catch me,
I’m the Gingerbread Girl!

Next, she dashes passed a group of farmers who are charmed by her sweet aroma.  As they run after her, she laughs and says:

Hey, farmers, don’t bother!
Like my brother, I’m fast!
Run all you want,
But I’ve learned from his past!

Then, she repeats her Gingerbread Girl mantra.  Similarly, she passes a pig, an artist, cows, dogs, and school children who all join the procession chasing her.  She assures each one with their own distinctive rhyming stanza that she will not repeat her brother’s mistake nor does she mind them all chasing her.  She seems to be inviting them along on her flight.

Like her brother before her, she comes to the river where the cunning fox is anxiously waiting for her.  He coyly coerces her and uses the same tricks, but the Gingerbread Girl outsmarts him!  She pulls from her head one of the leathery licorice strands.  Like an expert ranch hand, she lassos up fox’s mouth and rides him back to shore.  The amazed crowd follow the lonely couple back to their home.  Everyone quickly joins in to help feed the hungry houseful.  From that day on, the couple is never lonely again.   Neither is the Gingerbread Girl.  She also has a new friend. 

I have read several versions of this story.  I was pleasantly surprised by this fresh, inventive retelling by Lisa Campbell Ernst.  The text is fast-paced and engaging.  The prose and poetry combination is fluid.  The poetic lines are well-written and insightful.  The protagonist is dynamic and clever.  The ending is satisfying.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story out loud with my son.   

Teaching Opportunities:
·         Reading Skills—Sequence the Story Events using a graphic organizer
·         Pretend Play—Students can re-enact the story using themselves as the characters or created materials like stick or finger puppets to use
·         Choral Reading—Signal the children each time the Gingerbread Girl chants her mantra; student can “read” along
·         Rhyme—Identify end rhymes in each stanza
·         Art—Decorate Gingerbread boy or girl cut outs with crayons, markers, or other supplies (glitter, ribbon, faux jewels)
·         Math—Click on Gingerbread Math Ideas for lots of great ideas
·         Building—Create a gingerbread house or small ones for a village

Also, click on The Gingerbread Cowboy post and BabblingAbby’s blog for more lesson plan idea and activities.   For technology connections, check out InTech Insights.


  1. This sounds like a delightful book! Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I loved this story when I was younger and it's great to see a "girl's version. Hopefully, the Gingerbread Girl's fate isn't the same as the Gingerbread Boy's.


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