Category Archives: Genealogy

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man & Runaway Tales, Near & Far

Gingerbread Man runaway tales from near & far are as old as they are vast, brought to us in many versions from around the world. Research shows the story began as an oral storytelling tradition, a folktale. According to a researcher at The The Straight Dope, the history behind “gyngerbreed” dates back to 1386, that’s the 14th century folks! And the early gingerbread treats were made in the shape of a fluer de lis, or men or pigs.

Leave it to the Brothers’ Grimm to show the dark side of what most think of as a moral lesson to children about vanity. In their nightmarish twist on the Gingerbread Man a young child is splashed with mud and the mud steals the child’s eyes, nose, and mouth. Yikes! Then it runs off yelling, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man!” You can see a short clip of their creepy version on YouTube  here. Yeah, run, run, as fast as you can to get away from that thing!!!

The first documented account of a Gingerbread tale in the United States appeared in 1875. “The Gingerbread Boy,” was a story printed in the May issue of St. Nicholas magazine, a children’s literary journal. And over centuries, it has been re-imagined over and over.

What’s your favorite spin on this re-told tale? You know mine, The King Cake Baby, about our very own New Orleans runaway of course!

*updated with new titles

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A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families…

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families…

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

a fine desert

Title:  A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

Written by Emily Jenkins   

Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (January 2015)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: food history, American history, family, historical genealogy, geography, technology

Brief Synopsis: Follow four families over four centuries make the same blackberry fool dessert. The book opens in 1710 in England and the reader sees the mother and daughter picking the blackberries, beating the cream from their cow with twigs. Fast forward a hundred years to 1810 in South Carolina, then 1910 in Boston and finally to San Diego today.

Opening pages:  “A bit more than three hundred years ago in an English town called Lyme, a girl and her mother picked wild blackberries.

Their hands turned purple with the juice.

The thorns of the berry bushes pricked the fabric of their long skirts.

Why I like this book: As a family historian I spend a great deal of time researching and rummaging through genealogical records.  This book is a delightful and can be used in so many ways to introduce change over four centuries. Kids are introduced to technological advances that affected the daily lives of people. Every hundred years a new kitchen tool is used to make the cream- twigs,  a wire whisk, a rotary beater, and finally an electric mixer that affects the time it takes to prepare it. They also see sociological change through the family units presented. The illustrations show the evolution of the family over four centuries from high society, slave society, to a more middle class society that becomes more inclusive and less formal.

The author and illustrator include notes about their research lagniappe for any teacher or researcher. And of course there’s a recipe for blackberry fool!

Resources: A Fine Dessert Poster and Activities (with CCSS tie-ins) is available on the Random House website here.

For more of today’s book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

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