December 12 – Gingerbread House Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-christmas

About the Holiday

Yummy, warm gingerbread and winter just go together. And one of the best ways to enjoy gingerbread is by making a gingerbread house decorated with icing and candy. Gingerbread houses can be elaborate—like those made by professional bakers for competitions—or simple, but they all have one thing in common—they are so tempting to nibble on! To celebrate today’s holiday, grab the mixing bowl, flour and spices, bag of gumdrops, peppermints, and hard candies and get creative!

Gingerbread Christmas

By Jan Brett

 

Matti and the Gingerbread Baby are excited about the coming Christmas Festival. Gingerbread Baby even has plans to sing with his Gingerbread Band. There’s just one problem—there is no Gingerbread Band. But then Matti has an idea. As he rushes off to find the cookbook, he tells Gingerbread Baby to start practicing his song. “In no time Matti had mixed the ingredients, rolled out the dough, and popped the Gingerbread into the oven.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-christmas-matti-baking

Copyright Jan Brett, 2016, courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Even though the recipe specifically says not to open the oven for a full eight minutes, after six minutes Matti can’t wait another second. He opens the oven door ever so slightly to peek, and out pop the musical instruments made of gingerbread. The instruments hop onto the table and begin playing immediately. But Matti knows they need a bit of icing before they’re ready to make an appearance in the village.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-christmas-decorated-cookies

Copyright Jan Brett, 2016, courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

After they are decorated in their party best, the Gingerbread Baby leads the procession of instruments—“a violin, cello, double bass, French horn, clarinet, and trumpet, tooting and zumming to the beat of the big bass drum”—to the village. The band jumps on stage, tunes up, and begins playing. People hurry from all over tocome and listen; even the woodland animals stop to watch from behind the trees. The villagers can’t help but tap their toes and dance to the band’s sweet music.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-christmas-band-playing

Copyright Jan Brett, 2016, courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

When the animals join the crowd, the Gingerbread Baby conducts the band in ‘The Wild Animal’s Waltz.’ No one is left on the sidelines as the band plays faster and faster and everyone joins in the dance. Suddenly, young Ann-Sophie calls out, “‘I think those instruments are really cookies. And I so want one!’” Everyone else takes a closer look, and they all so want a cookie too. The Gingerbread Baby notices the hungry looks on the villagers’ faces, and begins singing an entrancing melody. While the people stand listening, the instruments quietly tiptoe offstage.

Matti meets each one and cleverly disguises them—covering them in snowballs and decorating them as snowmen. As soon as all of the instruments are safe, the Gingerbread Baby somersaults off the stage with a playful taunt for the villagers to try to catch him but also teases, “‘you’ll never guess where I’ll be.’” The chase is on. Zigging and zagging the Gingerbread Baby dashes toward the enormous decorated Christmas tree—where he suddenly vanishes.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-christmas-dancing

Copyright Jan Brett, 2016, courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Although the villagers search everywhere, they can find neither the band nor the Gingerbread Baby. While Matti waves goodbye and takes off with his sled full of snowmen, the Gingerbread Baby is being as still and quiet as possible, hidden in the boughs of the Christmas tree. Finally, all the villagers give up the game and go home—all except Ann-Sophie, who may or may not hear “a tiny voice singing” in the now silent air.

Jan Brett’s mischievously loveable Gingerbread Baby is back, wanting to participate in the Village Festival. With her signature storytelling that includes danger, mystery, and clever shenanigans surrounding Matti and his special gingerbread creations, Brett creates a holiday adventure that kids will love. Her well-known intricate illustrations, in a rich palette, offer vivid action as the Gingerbread Baby and instruments play onstage while the villagers dance below. Brett’s beautiful details and cozy settings make Gingerbread Christmas a feast for the eyes, and readers will also like to linger over the musical instruments in the margins of each page that reveal more snapshots of the story line. A dazzling fold-out Christmas tree, decorated from top to bottom will occupy and delight kids as they search for where the Gingerbread Baby is hiding.

For winter fun and especially those days when the house fills with the delicious aroma of baking cookies, Gingerbread Christmas is great book to have on hand.

Ages 4 – 7

G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0399170713

Discover more about Jan Brett and her books as well find activities, coloring pages, contests, and more on her website!

Gingerbread House Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-gingerbread-house-coloring-page

Gingerbread House Coloring Page

 

You may not be able to nibble on this printable Gingerbread House Coloring Page, but you can still have fun decorating it!

Picture Book Review

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