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*Ginger Bear* by Mini Grey
Also written or illustrated by Mini Grey:

Space Dog

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey

Out of the Woods

Jim (Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion): A Cautionary Tale

Out of the Woods

Into the Woods

The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon
Ginger Bear
by Mini Grey
Ages 4-8 32 pages Knopf June 2007 Hardcover    

Horace doesnít know proper dough-handling techniques. Heís turning a perfectly good ball of his momís dough into a dirty gray lump by rolling it in places dough should NEVER be rolled.

With a cookie cutter in his hands, though, he comes to his senses and creates a dough masterpiece - a gingerbread bear. In twenty minutes, the doughy bear goes from raw to baked. Once the cookie is out of the oven, Horace wants to eat it. But poor Horace has continual bad timing whenever he tries snacking on the freshly baked cookie. The time is never right for tasting; deciding to try eating the cookie first thing in the morning, Horace goes to sleep with the cookie on his pillow.

Horace may be sleeping the night away, but the Ginger Bear cookie is not. Ginger Bear wakes up in the middle of the night with a stretch and a yawn and proceeds directly to the kitchen to bake some friends. Friends made out of flour, butter, and milk are fragile, but they donít take long to bake or to decorate. Using all sorts of cake toppings, Ginger Bear is soon surrounded by a group of creatively decorated friends.

Using kitchen utensils and recipe ingredients, Ginger Bear and his new friends entertain themselves in an improvised circus. A ketchup bottle makes a great cannon, and a rolling pin works as a set of heavy weights. A Ginger Tiger jumps through a round cookie cutter, and peas are used for juggling. Itís the audience of one lurching behind the kitchen door that causes the circus to break apart. Realizing a dangerous kitchen is not the safest place for a cookie, Ginger Bear leaves the house - but not before he leaves behind a new address clue for Horace.

Before she became a fulltime picture book creator, Mini Grey was a theatre designer and an elementary school teacher. Her other books include Traction Man is Here! and The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon. Her illustrations in Ginger Bear were rendered using ink, watercolors, acrylic paint, collaged pictures and photographs, and wood glue.

Take a look at the illustration of the Golden Bun on the title page. Before the story even starts, the author has given readers a clue about whatís to come and a sneak peek at some of the main characters. This is a fun story to read, with likeable characters and one smart cookie. Horace is a wide-eyed boy with little hair, a rectangular nose and a toothy smile. His pajamas are too short and when he sleeps at night, he dreams of sheep. Although Horaceís mother is in the book, all the reader sees are her arms and legs. Ginger Bear and his homemade friends are the main focus of this story, and their cookie theme extends into other areas of the story as well. Cookies appear on the bedspread, the door frames, and even the wallpaper. My favorite cookie illustrations are Ginger Bear in an apron, and his cookie friend who wears the muffin-liner tutu.

The humor starts in the opening kitchen scene. The focus is on Horaceís dough usage. Illustrated snapshots show a white ball of dough slowly going gray. The humor continues with illustrations of a toothpaste-foaming Horace and a dough-foaming oven.

The text alters in size and font in this story. The word "fluffy" looks like it has sprouted hair, the word "shadow" is colored in with a dim-shaded black, and decorative ingredient words are written in a cursive style. The one to three sentences on every page add description to the story and expression to the illustrations.

Ginger Bear is a rising star, and he needs more stories. I hope Mini Grey writes another Ginger Bear book soon.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2007 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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