Written and Illustrated by Mini Grey
Alfred A. Knopf, 2004
Our story starts with a lump of pastry that Horace’s Mum gave him, which Horace would usually roll about over the floor and furniture until it was deep gray and fluffy (and quite a lot smaller).
The plot in a nutshell: A ginger cookie finds the perfect home.
Horace uses a bear shaped cookie cutter to make a gingerbread bear cookie and he wants to eat it right away, but Mum says it is too hot. He can’t eat it before supper or it will spoil his appetite and he can’t eat before bed because he has already brushed his teeth. So he puts it in a little tin to wait for morning, but during the night, Ginger Bear wakes up and goes to the kitchen to make some friends for himself. He bakes and decorates a collection of bears and they are putting on a grand circus when the dog comes in. Ginger Bear is the only cookie who escapes. Ginger Bear becomes part of the window display in a pastry shop, where he is safe.
This story, from author/illustrator Mini Grey, was originally published in the UK as Biscuit Bear. There are definite similarities here to the fairy tale of the Gingerbread Man, but I wouldn’t consider this one a retelling. Ms. Grey punches up the story with lots of funny moments and even the dog’s wanton destruction of all of Ginger Bear’s cookie friends feels darkly comical. The illustrations were done in ink, watercolor, acrylics, collage and wood glue and the acknowledgements page includes a statement that no cookies were harmed in the book’s creation, which is cute. I really liked the depictions of the cookie circus, which have some very clever concepts. But overall, the story seemed to jump around a little bit and the resolution felt rushed and anti-climactic, so I can’t say it was a favorite of mine.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the ideal place for you is out there somewhere and all you need to do is find it.