Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sass and Spice: The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Ernst

A full year had passed since the lonely old woman and the lonely old man had lost the Gingerbread Boy.

"Let's bake again!" said the old man one morning.

Lisa Campbell Ernst can be counted upon to fill her fractured fairy tales with peppery heroines long on spice and short on sugar, and her picture book, The Gingerbread Girl is no exception.

True to family form, the Gingerbread Girl hops out of the oven and right through the door, just like her unfortunate dimwitted brother, but this girl is a smart cookie who is capable of learning from vicarious experience. Granted, her rhyme scheme is familiar, and her followers feature some of the usual hungry characters, all of whom want to be her "special" friend. In no time she has outrun the old couple, some farmers, a painter, a piggy, a cow, a dog, and some school kids with a serious case of the munchies, but this heroine is fast on her feet and faster with a rhyme:

I can outrun this artist
Like I outran the pig.
I am one smart cookie,
Despite this wild wig.

But there is only so much a girl can do to alter the plot of these tales. Soon she pulls up beside a river, and guess who is willing and eager to take her across. Yep, it's the same old fox, beguiled by her spicy smell and her curly red licorice-whip coiffure. "Hel-lo, my pretty! I was a friend of your brother's. It looks like trouble runs in your family!" he says.

Despite his promises to ferry her across the river safely, however, the old red fox is true to his nature. But in midstream when this cool cookie finds herself too near the business end of the wily fox, she puts her hairstyle to its best use yet--twisting the stretchy licorice whips around Fox's greedy snout and tying his jaws too tight to whimper. Then this practical girl leads her large following--including the still snack-driven kids--back to the bake shop where the happy little old woman and little old man have a very profitable bake sale, thanks to their prodigal daughter, who sings proudly for the crowd:

We'll run and we'll run
With a leap and a twirl.
I out-foxed the fox!
I'm the Gingerbread Girl!



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