Written by Kate Louise, Illustrated by Grace Sandford
Sky Pony Press, 2015
This is no ordinary gingerbread man.
The plot in a nutshell: A cookie overcomes his own perceived limitation.
The gingerbread man is accidentally made without ginger, so he doesn’t feel like a real gingerbread man. He stays in the back of the baker’s shop and makes lots of trouble, eating candy and making a mess with sprinkles and frosting. The baker gets frustrated and tells the gingerbread man to leave. The gingerbread man tells him that he wants to stay, so the baker shows him that he can still be kind and thoughtful to others, even if he feels incomplete himself. The gingerbread man starts helping the baker make and decorate his creations and he always remembers to add the ginger.
Author Kate Louise is also a writer of young adult novels (as Kate Ormond) and I have a real admiration for authors who can be successful at writing for different age groups simultaneously. The premise of this book is really interesting and the message is superbly conveyed. The idea that, regardless of your physical restrictions or emotional baggage, you have some choice in how you behave and treat others is an important statement for people of all ages to keep in mind. And we see that being kind to others fulfills the part of the gingerbread man that was missing and makes him happier, as kindness to others usually does.
The artwork, from Grace Sandford, presents this story at the gingerbread man’s eye level, so we never see the baker’s face, which is somehow just perfect. Of course there are lots of colorful candies and blobs of frosting to give this story a real sense of whimsy, but the gingerbread cookie’s faces are full of emotions and it’s rewarding to see the main character’s expressions change from angry to remorseful to genuinely happy and loved. I really enjoyed this story.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the things that shaped you don’t have to define you for life. You always have the choice to be kind and helpful.