Elisa says:

(See "Prints/Illustrations" page to view more scenes from this story.)

To see and learn  more about this book, please read this interview on Jama Kim Rattigan's delightful and delicious blog, Alphabet Soup! 

And listen to an interview about the book on Cover to Cover Book Beat by clicking here.

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A San Francisco Story

published by Heyday Press 

When Shirley bakes herself a gingerbread treat to bring to school, the last things she expects is for him to leap out of her lunchbox and begin gobbling everything in sight.  A wild chase ensues -- on foot and by cable car-- through iconic San Francisco neighborhoods.  When the gingerbread boy says "And if you try to make me stop, I'll swallow the sun like a butterscotch drop!" Shirley realizes she must rein him in -- not by eating him, but by giving him the affection he craves even more than food. 



"The images lend themselves to dreamy immersion into detail and a rainbow of colorful splendor. Children familiar with the original “Gingerbread Man” tale should enjoy the happy re-envisioned conclusion of friendship and baked treats.  While this picture book may seem to be just another addition to a San Francisco gift shop, the splendid illustrations, cultural diversity, and lyrical rhymes give it a wider audience.  

 -- School Library Journal

"Each spread radiates vibrant, multicultural life, and they are filled with curves, swivels, and diagonal lines to echo the gingerbread boy's riotous behavior.  A playful retelling of a classic folk tale, winningly illustrated. "  

 -- Kirkus Reviews

"In Elisa Kleven's retelling, the self-centered cookie is redeemed thanks to the faith and generosity of his friend Shirley. Kleven's richly colored pages -- a blend of watercolor, ink, pencil, and collage -- overflow with detail, rewarding repeat readers. And the themes of forgiveness and kindness make it a terrific conversation-starter with young kids.


 The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy is a brightly illustrated celebration of San Francisco and a fun update on the familiar folk tale. Instead of getting tricked and eaten by a fox, this gingerbread cookie finds forgiveness thanks to a true friend who helps him become a better person. He grows enormously large, stretching across the Golden Gate Bridge and threatening to devour the sun. The book, by San Francisco Bay Area author-illustrator Elisa Kleven (The Paper Princess), captures the eclectic charm and diverse people of the city, from Chinatown and Golden Gate Park to the coastal redwoods. The book includes a recipe for gingerbread people and a guide to the landmarks pictured throughout the story. 


Educational Value A+ : Strong messages about making up for harm you've caused and how to be a good friend. City landmarks are identified and mapped in a helpful two-page spread at the back of the book. An author's note tells the background of the story of the Gingerbread Man and why Kleven chose to change it. Also includes a recipe for baking gingerbread people.


 -- Common Sense Media

“A truly wonderful book.”

 --Ginny Golden, senior community library manager, Contra Costa County Libraries


"This is a lovely, fun version of an old classic." 

 -Feathered Quill 


"A fun and different spin on the old classic, The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy: A San Francisco Story, is a delight. Told with heart and creativity, this...is a great story about love, friendship, and adventure. So delightful.”  

 -- Mrs. Mommy Booknerd's Book Reviews

“The exuberance of this rhymed retelling is fun to read aloud and the pictures are a marvel to show to young readers. Kids can pour over the intricate street scenes and parents can enjoy the author's witty view of San Francisco.” --Dan Hess, branch manager, Fort Bragg Library

Jose-Luis Orozco, Elisa, and the GingerbreadBoy

Kathie Johnston's quilts featuring the Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy and a few august children's book friends.

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A gingerbread collage made by children.