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

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Jose-Luis Orozco, Elisa, and the GingerbreadBoy

Kathie Johnston's quilt featuring the Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy 

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A gingerbread collage made by children.


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


"An absolute jewel box of a book, SF author/illustrator Elisa Kleven's "The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy" is alive with an abundance of San Francisco city sights and details." --San Francisco Main Children's Center Librarians

“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, 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

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