by Joseph Jacobs
Once upon a time there was a big old farm. Horses, pigs, and chickens lived on this big old farm, and they were well looked after by an old man and an old woman who lived in the farmhouse.
Every morning the old man gave some carrots, lettuce and hay to the horses, pigs, and chickens and they were very happy.
On this particular morning, as the old man went outside to give the horses, pigs and chickens their carrots, lettuce and hay, while the old woman went to the kitchen to look in her very special and magic cook book.
Up, up, up she stretched to get the book down from the shelf and put it on the kitchen table. The old book belonged to her mum, and her mum’s mum before that, and her mum’s, mum’s mum before her, and her mum’s, mum’s, mum’s mum a long, long time ago.
She decided to open the book and slowly turned the pages. Page one, jumping bananas. Page two, flying pizzas. Page three, super spaghetti! What a crazy cook book.
Stopping on page 4 she read the title, “running biscuits” and smiled. Running biscuits she laughed. They look great. I like biscuits. No, I love biscuits!
Mix, mix, mixing, the old woman started to cook. Stir, stir stirring, she added sugar and flour and continued cooking. Mix, mix, mixing, stir, stir stirring. The old woman didn’t stop. She added some butter and one large egg before mixing in some special ginger.
The old woman took a handful of dough to make a little gingerbread man. She made a leg, then two legs, a tummy, two arms and a head. She made a little nose, an eye, then two eyes and a mouth, a big smiling mouth.
Then from a sweet jar she took a red sweet, a blue sweet and a yellow sweet and placed them on the gingerbread man’s tummy to make colourful buttons for him. She pushed the yellow sweet into place and put everything into a hot oven, and waited.
When the old woman opened the oven door the gingerbread man jumped out and ran across to the magic cook book. He started dancing on page 4, just below the title “running biscuits” and laughed at the old woman. “I’m a running biscuit and you won’t eat me because you can’t catch me” he laughed.
“Stop, stop little gingerbread man!” cried the old woman.
The old woman tried to stop the gingerbread man but he could run very fast. He ran under the table, over the chairs and out of the kitchen door before the old woman could catch him. The gingerbread man stopped at the door and sang to the old woman “run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!”
By this time the old man was coming back to the house after feeding the horses, pigs, and chickens and could see the gingerbread man running around the garden. “Catch the gingerbread man” shouted the old woman to the old man, “run and catch him, run and catch him”.
“Catch me?! Ha, ha, ha” laughed the gingerbread man “the old man has got two old legs, I’ve got two new young legs look!” The gingerbread man started to shake his right leg and then his left leg while he ran around and around the old man singing his taunt “run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!”
When he finished singing his song the gingerbread man ran under the old man’s legs and out into the farmyard.
“Catch the gingerbread man” shouted the old man to the pigs. “You’ve all got four legs and can run fast! Run and catch him, run and catch him”.
The pigs saw the gingerbread man and tried to eat him. “oink, oink. Stop little gingerbread man, I want to eat you” said one pig but the gingerbread man simply jumped on the pig’s back and ran from his head to his tail singing, “run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!” while all the other pigs just ran around and around squealing and oinking.
The gingerbread man ran into the chicken coop where the chickens began to fly about above the gingerbread man looking down on him as he ran through the eggs on the floor below.
“Catch the gingerbread man” shouted the old man to the chickens. “You’ve all got two wings and can fly. Fly down and catch him, fly down and catch the gingerbread man”.
But the gingerbread man laughed as the chickens tried to fly down and catch him. “cluck, cluck” they said “stop little gingerbread man, we want to eat you”.
Jumping over, under, around and between the big eggs the gingerbread man sang “fly, fly as fast as you can you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man” and he was right. The chickens couldn’t catch the gingerbread man.
The gingerbread man was now running past the horses. “Neigh, stop little gingerbread man” said a big brown horse “I want to eat you”. But the gingerbread man didn’t stop running and the horse couldn’t catch him.
All the old woman, the old man, the pigs, the chickens and the horses could do was watch as the gingerbread man ran out of the farm singing “run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!”
A police officer was walking past the farm and stopped to listen. He could hear the horses neighing, the chickens clucking, the pigs oinking and the old woman and old man shouting.
The police officer went to look what was going on but he too was also hungry and when he saw the gingerbread man running towards him he put his whistle in his mouth and blew. “WHEWWW, WHEWWW. Stop little gingerbread man” he said “I want to eat you”.
“Sorry Mr Police Officer, I will not stop for you to eat me!” said the gingerbread man “so run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!”
Away from the farm the ginger bread man was about to run past an office worker, who was eating a sandwich. The office worker look at the gingerbread man and said “Hello, hello. Stop little gingerbread man, I want to eat you”.
Again the gingerbread man didn’t stop, he just looked over his shoulder and sang “run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the gingerbread man!”
And so the gingerbread man continued to run, run, run until he arrived at a river.
A fox came out from behind a tree and smiled at the gingerbread man. He wanted to eat the gingerbread man but had a clever plan.
“Hello little gingerbread man, you’ve stopped running. Can you swim across the river?” asked to fox.
“No, I can’t swim” said the gingerbread man “I can run very fast. I can run faster than the old woman, I can run faster than the old man, I can run faster than the pigs, the chickens and the horses, I can run faster than the police officer and the office worker, but I can’t swim”.
“I don’t want to eat you but I can help you” said the fox “climb onto my tail and we can swim across the river together” and so the gingerbread man did what the fox wanted.
“Oh no” said the fox “the water is deep. I think it’s a good idea if you climb onto my back”. So the ginger bread man climbed onto the fox’s back.
“Oh no” said the fox “the water is very deep. I think it’s a good idea if you climb onto my nose”. So the ginger bread man climbed onto the fox’s nose.
The gingerbread man’s legs were now nearly in the fox’s mouth and the fox could almost taste the lovely gingerbread. He liked gingerbread very much.
He was about to take a bite when the old woman pulled the fox’s tail from behind him! The fox cried out “ou-ou-ouch” and threw gingerbread man up into the air.
The gingerbread man was flying through the air up, up, up then... down, down, down he fell and waited to splash into the cold water of the river.
But the splash didn’t come. Instead he felt 5 fingers around his tummy and before long he was looking into the eyes of the old woman.
“Don’t eat me. Don’t eat me!” the gingerbread man cried, as he got closer and closer to the old woman’s mouth.
The old woman closed her mouth and put her lips together and gave the gingerbread man a kiss on his forehead, moi.
You see the pigs, the chickens, the horses, the police officer, the office worker and especially the fox all wanted to eat the gingerbread man but little old lady didn’t.
“No, no, no” she said. “I don’t want to eat you. I made you because I wanted a baby. I wanted a fast and strong baby boy like you” and she kissed him again.
The fox ran back behind the tree and the old woman and the gingerbread man went back to the kitchen in the big old farmhouse.
The old woman started to cook again and as she was cooking she sang, louder and louder, over and over the same song,
“I’m making a gingerbread house,
With a gingerbread floor and a gingerbread door,
Gingerbread stairs and gingerbread chairs,
A gingerbread toy for my gingerbread boy.”
In a short time the old lady had made a beautiful little gingerbread house with four windows, two doors, a bedroom and a living room. Inside the house there were tables and chairs, and a big soft sofa.
And in this gingerbread house the little gingerbread man lived happily ever after.