Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Gingerbread Baby, based on the story by Jan Brett

It was very cold and snowy outside. It was warm inside. A fine day for building gingerbread houses, the Harvey Family thought. They called up their cousins, the Pugh's and invited them over.

As the afternoon progressed, we mentally prepared ourselves for the annual tradition. The call was made and pizza was ordered for 6:30 pm. The cousins would arrive promptly at 7, their own gingerbread house kits and extra candies in tow.

We ate the pizza, drank sodas and visited until the time arrived for the decorating to begin. The shower curtain was spread on the table to provide for a quick, easy clean-up.

Soon, the teams were formed: Team Syracuse, Team Christmas Tree, Team Lean-To, and Team Cheaters. As the gingerbread kits were unpacked, out of Team Cheater's box jumped a gingerbread baby! As naked as can be, he jumped from the kit and landed amongst the supplies on the table, waiting, anxious to be decorated and "clothed."

“I am the Gingerbread Baby,
Fresh from the pan.
If you want me,
Catch me if you can.”

-Jan Brett, The Gingerbread Baby

Dave reached for the Gingerbread Baby to put him back into the counter. But he ran all around the kitchen.

He ran toward the living room. Niko caught a whiff of tasty ginger and sniffed along behind him. But the Gingerbread Baby was halfway up when the dog caught up. He barked and barked as the Gingerbread Baby climbed over the couch.

Dave was still in the kitchen, helping his teammate Paul with shingling the roof of their gingerbread house. He heard Paul's mother and father yelling. He heard Niko barking. And he heard the Gingerbread Baby shouting:

“Catch me if you can!”

Dave and Paul kept working.

Meanwhile the Gingerbread Baby wheeled on through the house. Katie stopped hot-gluing the tree and tried to catch him, but the Gingerbread Baby was too fast.

David and Diana were standing by the refrigerator, decorating the roof on their own gingerbread house when the Gingerbread Baby came to find a drink. They looked at each other and winked. David started to talk to him while Diana tiptoed up behind him with a bowl. But they couldn’t fool that Gingerbread Baby.

He took a shirt sleeve from Diana and a shirt sleeve from David and tied them in a knot and ran back out of the kitchen.

Paul and Dave continued to ignore the chaos.

Tick, tock, tick. Eight long minutes had passed. They didn't let any of the madness distract their intense concentration and worked with a goal in mind. “I will catch him if I can,” Paul whispered to Dave.

As he was bouncing around the house, the Gingerbread Baby saw an empty chair, hidden in the corner of the kitchen. He jumped on and settled down for a nap. However, he didn't realize that right next to him sat Lois, still fretting from her gingerbread house collapse. The smell of gingerbread was too much for her. Annoyed, she tossed him high in the air, closed her eyes and opened her mouth. But the Gingerbread Baby twisted in the air and came down hard on her head.

“I am the Gingerbread Baby.
Too quick for the mother and then father,
Too fast for Niko, Katie,
Too clever for Diana and David,
Too smart for Lois.
Who’s left? Catch me if you can!”

Feeling smug, the Gingerbread Baby strolled along under the table until he found himself standing on Bob's feet. Bob felt the movement and fearing a spider, looked down. The Gingerbread Baby was trapped. He jumped up onto achair, backflipped through the air and landed on the top of the refrigerator.

The refrigerator gurgled and sputtered with the Gingerbread Baby dancing up on top, and singing in a loud voice,

“Look at me.
And what do you see?
The best Gingerbread Baby ever!”
Until his feet got hot and he had to jump down.

Who was that watching from the the right? It was Alice. She crept up behind the Gingerbread Baby, ready to eat him up, eager for dessert. But Alice couldn’t help herself, and she licked her lips in anticipation. Smack! Smack! The Gingerbread Baby heard her and ran as fast as he could.

Just when Alice miraculously figured out how to move herself about the kitchen, the Gingerbread Baby saw the hoodie on Diana. The perfect hiding place, he thought. He lifted the lid and lowered himself inside. He was so pleased that he sang at the top of his gingerbread voice,

“Ha, ha! Hee, hee!
You’ll never find me.
I’m the Gingerbread Baby.
Catch me if you can!”

Diana heard the Gingerbread Baby’s voice. “Who is meddling with my milk!” she shouted and swirled quickly around. But the Gingerbread Baby was ready. He jumped up and tweaked his nose.

Now Diana and David, Mike and Lois, Katie and Niko, Dave, Alice and the father and the mother were all after the Gingerbread Baby and getting closer.

And he knew it.

The brash baby was not as peppy and proud as he had been. He sniffed a familiar smell and followed his nose back into the kitchen.

He couldn’t believe what he saw. There in the middle of a clearing was a gingerbread house, frosted with sugar, covered with candy, and doors with peppermint handles wide open. The Gingerbread Baby clapped his hands with glee and ran inside.

In a tick tock tick, everyone arrived in the den, but all they found were a bits of frosting, coconut, candies, cocoa puffs, marshmallows, M&M's, some peppermint candy – and a whole lot of crumbs.

The father exclaimed, “The Gingerbread Baby as finally met his match!”

“I wonder who it was?” the mother said. “Let’s go into the kitchen and tell Paul.”

“Hello, Paul,” his father said when they got to the kitchen. “We never did catch that Gingerbread Baby. All we found were some crumbs near the computer.”“I see you have been busy,” his mother said, looking at the gingerbread houses and the tree that were on the table. “Too bad we never caught that Gingerbread Baby.”

“Too bad,” said Paul.

Only Paul could hear the tiny voice from inside the gingerbread house.

“I’m the little Gingerbread Baby,
Lucky as can be,
To be living in the gingerbread village,
That the Harvey's and Pugh's made for me!”