"The Little Gingerbread Man"
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in 1923 by the Royal Baking Powder Company
Once on a time there was a King
As cross as any bear,
He shook the cook and often took
A handful of his hair!
(And this was quite a shame because
He hadn't much to spare.)
But then, a wretched cook he was,
Which complicated things,
And sure as whales have fins and tails
Poor cooking makes poor Kings!
Now, this one flung folks right and left
And scolded without cause,
And, perched upon his throne, he made
A lot of dreadful laws.
And what you s'pose the last one was?
The last one, mercy sake!
Forbade his subjects to indulge
In any kind of cake.
Im--agine, and the Princess Posy's
Birthday right at hand.
A birthday and no cake;
Dismay and horror filled the land!
No Cakes in Jalapomp, No Buns--
The law said,--and No Tarts.
The Princess sighed, the Courtiers cried
Just fit to break their hearts.
"Without a cake a birthday's like
A King without a crown,"
The cook explained, and when he added
With a puzzled frown--
"Where shall we stick the candles, Sire?"
"Oh, stick them in your head!"
The old King muttered crossly
As he shuffled off to bed,
"And may a Gooch fly off with you!"
Yes, that is what he said.
But luckily, it happened that a
Little Flour Fairy heard
The whole affair and off she flew
And told it word for word
To the Queen of all the Flour Folk
Who in a castle grand
All built of wooden bowls and spoons
Rules over Cookry Land.
And there she was a-baking
Out of fragrant gingerbread
A little man who from the pan
Rose as we rise from bed,
For all the cakes that this Queen makes
Are alive in Cookry Town,
And you can see them any day
Go skipping up and down.
And as the good Queen listened
To the little Fairy's tale,
The little man of gingerbread
With resolution pale
Spoke up; said he, "Here's work for me
Allow ME to persuade
This naughty King that cake's the thing
Provided it is made
The ROYAL way. I'll start to-day,
I'll call for volunteers."
And call he did so loudly
All the cakes pricked up their ears.
"For the honor of good cakes, who'll go
To Jalapomp?" he cried.
"I will," a sugar cooky said
And hurried to his side.
Then smoking and lighthearted
Came a lovely buckwheat cake,
A doughnut rolled up jauntily
And next, for sugar sake!
A bluff and hearty muffin-eer
And after him a funny
And awful sticky little tricky
Fat old cin'min bunny.
"I'll go a-hopping," said the Bun
And winked his raisin eyes,
Then came a little chocolate cake
Of lovely shape and size.
"Right!" cried the Queen.
"You all shall go
And take this little book
And in the can, brave Gingerbread Man,
Is something for the cook."
And then the Queen of Cookry Land
Clapped both her hands. Next minute
Down swooped a chocolate aeroplane
And all the cakes jumped in it.
Then off they sped to Jalapomp
And very swiftly too,
Ten miles a minute is the least
A chocolate plane will do.
Under a pickle tree the King
Of Jalapomp sat reading,
When straight above his kingly head
The chocolate plane came speeding.
"I smell fresh cakes!" the King did cry
In a voice of wrath and thunder,
"Who's baking cakes in Jalapomp
And breaking laws, I wonder?"
He sniffed and then he sniffed again
And not with rage--but zest,
"Of all the cakes I ever smelled
Sniff! Sniff! These are the best."
No wonder! Each cake in the plane
Was fresh and smoking slightly.
"Hello!" called Johnny Gingerbread
And waved his cap politely.
The King looked up and when he saw
Cakes all alive and tempting--
He lost his anger then and there
And found himself relenting.
Now running from the left and right
Came everyone to see
The leader of the Flying Corps,
Their hero soon to be.
"Ahem!" coughed Johnny Gingerbread,
"You've made a law, I hear,
Against all cakes in Jalapomp--
We cannot come too near."
"Oh, please come down," the Princess cried,
"Please do, my little honey."
"You would not have us break the law,
It's safer here," said Bunny.
Then Cin'min Bunny wagged his ears,
"If we were on the ground
I'm very much afraid we'd have
To pass ourselves around!"
"Please do," the King begged, jumping up.
"But how about the law?
We must not trespass," said the Bun,
And the poor King dropped his jaw.
With each look he grew hungrier,
And said with much ado,
"When I forbade the use of cake
It was not meant for you.
Our cook could never make good cake,
His cakes were quite detestible,
Heavier than a keg of nails
And just as indigestible.
"If he could make such cakes as you
I'd break the law myself,
And have a dozen cooky jars
Upon the pantry shelf."
"Hurray!" cried Johnny Gingerbread,
"When all is said and spoken,
He can, and that obnoxious law
Is just as good as broken.
"Good cakes are good for everyone
But 'specially are they good
For boys and girls.
Good cake is also FOOD.
"Good cakes are light and tasty
And," his voice grew loud and louder,
"Good cakes like us are baked with care
And ROYAL BAKING POWDER!"
"Then give me some," the poor cook pleaded
With a frantic spring,
"And I will make a cake that's fit
To set before a king!"
"And it will be my birthday cake,"
The Princess cried in glee,
"Oh, thank you, Johnny Gingerbread,
Do please come down to me!"
But little Johnny Gingerbread
Just winked his sugar eye
And whispered to the others,
"It's time for us to fly,
For when that edict really breaks
We'll all be little angel cakes!"
But first he tossed the ROYAL BAKING
POWDER to the cook
And down beside it fell the magic
Royal Cooking Book.
That very day cook baked a cake
So flaky, sweet and light,
The King embraced and raised him
To a ROYAL COOK and Knight.
And when his friends all questioned him
The cook winked both his eyes,
"Who uses Royal Baking Powder's
Simply bound to rise."
Since then his cooking has improved
In every single way
And the King grows more contented
And sweeter every day.
In fact I think without a question
His temper came from indigestion.
Now Johnny Gingerbread goes flying
From Cookry Town each day
To take his news to other folks,
In places far away.
He flies around from town to town,
And drops his Books and Powder down,
So everyone can have good cakes,
The kind that ROYAL always makes.
Copyright © 2001 Hungry Tiger Press. All rights reserved.
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