Once upon a time there was a mothe . . . who loved her daughter so much, she wanted to make her a wonderful surprise. So she mixed up some dough and cut out a beautiful gingerbread rabbit. But she got the surprise when the rabbit jumped up, ran out the door, and escaped into the forest!
Follow the gingerbread rabbit and the mother as they run through the woods finding adventure, new friends, and the best surprises of all.
About the Author
Randall Jarrell (1914-1965) received the National Book Award for his book of poems The Woman at the Washington Zoo. His children's book The Animal Family was named a Newbery Honor Book, and his translation of The Three Sisters was produced by The Actors Studio Theatre.
Garth Williams is the renowned illustrator of almost one hundred books for children, including the beloved Stuart Little by E. B. White, Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, and the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
He was born in 1912 in New York City but raised in England. He founded an art school near London and served with the British Red Cross Civilian Defense during World War II. Williams worked as a portrait sculptor, art director, and magazine artist before doing his first book Stuart Little, thus beginning a long and lustrous career illustrating some of the best known children's books.
In addition to illustrating works by White and Wilder, he also illustrated George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square and its sequels (Farrar Straus Giroux). He created the character and pictures for the first book in the Frances series by Russell Hoban (HarperCollins) and the first books in the Miss Bianca series by Margery Sharp (Little, Brown). He collaborated with Margaret Wise Brown on her Little Golden Books titles Home for a Bunny and Little Fur Family, among others, and with Jack Prelutsky on two poetry collections published by Greenwillow: Ride a Purple Pelican and Beneath a Blue Umbrella. He also wrote and illustrated seven books on his own, including Baby Farm Animals (Little Golden Books) and The Rabbits’ Wedding (HarperCollins).
Read an Excerpt
Once upon a time there was a mother with only one child. She loved the little girl so much that one morning, after she'd seen her off to school, she sat down in the kitchen by the fire and said to herself: "What can I do for a surprise for my little Mary, this afternoon when she comes home?"
At first she couldn't think of anything, but as she sat staring out the window she saw hop from behind a bush, right on the edge of the forest, the biggest, brownest rabbit she'd ever seen. She went over to the door, opened it a little, and peeped out at him. The rabbit saw her, but instead of running away he just looked at her. She tiptoed toward him a step at a time, until finally she could almost reach out and touch him, and still the rabbit didn't stir. But all of a sudden he wrinkled up his nose, twitched his ears, and gave a big sneeze. It was such a big sneeze that it made the mother jump, and the rabbit jumped too, and away he went into the forest.
The mother said to herself: "Never in all my life have I seen a rabbit as big as that or as brown as that or as tame as that -- what a pity he won't be here this afternoon for my little girl to see!" And no sooner had she said it than she thought of the surprise she could have for her daughter. She went back into the kitchen, got out some flour and molasses and brown sugar and ginger, mixed them together in a mixing bowl, and rolled them out on the kitchen table with a rolling pin. It all smelled so good the mother couldn't keep from licking the spoon. Then she took a paring knife, and with it she cut out of the dough a big brown gingerbread rabbit. He had ontrousers that came down to his knees and a coat that came up to his neck; and the mother took two raisins and stuck them on his face for eyes, and a cherry for his mouth, and a big blanched almond for his nose -- and somehow, when she'd finished the gingerbread rabbit, he looked exactly like the real rabbit she'd seen at the edge of the forest.
Just as the mother was about to put the rabbit into the oven she heard, from out in front of the house, something that went clop-clop, and then went creak-creak, and then called out in a low, slow, squeaky voice:
"Turnip greens, fresh turnip greens! Carrots and corn on the cob and beans,
Black-eyed peas just picked today -- If you don't come buy 'em
I'll throw 'em away."
It was the vegetable man's horse and the vegetable man's wagon and the vegetable man. So the mother left the gingerbread rabbit on the table, went into the front yard, and picked out some vegetables for dinner that night. But they looked so fresh and smelled so good that she got some for the next day and the day after that -- it took her a long time to pick out everything she wanted.
While she was gone the gingerbread rabbit lay there on the kitchen table, and the morning sun streamed in through the window and fell on his coat and trousers. After a while the sunshine warmed them so and dried them so that they had a lovely look and smell, like clothes someone has just ironed. The sunshine fell on the rabbit's arms and legs too, and warmed them and dried them till they looked just lovely, like a puppy's legs after he's been given a bath and wrapped in a towel and put in front of the fire to dry. And the sunshine fell on the raisins that were the rabbit's eyes, and the cherry that was his mouth, and the almond that was his nose -- and each of them got warmer and warmer and drier and drier, until at last the rabbit blinked his eyes, licked his lips, and wrinkled his nose. And then, all at once, he gave a big sneeze. He hopped to his feet, looked around him, and said: "Where am I?"
"Here in the kitchen," said the paring knife.
"What's a kitchen?" said the rabbit.
"It's where they cook you and eat you," said the paring knife.
"Me?" said the rabbit.
"You," said the paring knife.
"What do they want to eat me for?" said the rabbit. He sounded frightened.
"Because you're a rabbit," said the mixing bowl.
"What's a rabbit?" said the rabbit.
"It's an animal that lives in the forest, " said the mixing bowl, "and whenever anyone comes near him he runs away, because he's afraid they'll shoot him and eat him."
"They're going to shoot me?" said the rabbit.
"Oh no, not you," said the paring knife. "You're only a gingerbread rabbit. They'll put you in the oven and bake you."
"In the oven and bake me?" said the rabbit. He sounded more frightened than ever.
"Yes, bake you!" said the rolling pin. "Bake you and eat you!"
The rabbit said: "I don't want them to bake me! I don't want them to eat me!"
The paring knife and the mixing bowl and the rolling pin all laughed. "It makes no difference what you want," said the rolling pin. "In a minute the woman will come in and pick you up and put you in the oven, and that will be the end of you."
"Maybe I can hide," said the rabbit.
"A rabbit your size!" said the rolling pin. "Just look at yourself."The Gingerbread Rabbit. Copyright © by Randall Jarrell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book holds a very treasured story. Written back in the '60s, that makes it almost a classic now, right? 'Tis a heartwarming story--children and adults alike will enjoy it. Garth Williams' illustrations are an additional charm. Loooovely book!