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Gator Gumbo: A Spicy-Hot Tale Hardcover – March 9, 2004
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Old Monsieur Gator is very slow. He moves "slower than saw grass grows" and "slower than a snail with sore feet." He can no longer catch any of his tasty fellow bayou creatures to eat, "And--oh ho!--them critters sure know it." The possum, skunk, and otter taunt him, wiggling and sashaying just out of his reach. Finally, Gator gets hot (red hot) and hatches a crafty plan--he will make gumbo. When he asks who will help him, Little Red Hen-style, the creatures don't say "Not I," but "I ain't," (a reply more fitting for a Louisiana bayou). But when Gator finishes his okra and crawdad soup, and asks "Who' gonna help eat it?" the chorus chimes "Me! Me!" Gator agrees to let the otter, skunk, and possum take a sip, but when they lean over the pot, slurping and slipping, "Them animals go into the pot." A harsh fate for Gator's sassy tormenters? Perhaps, but revenge is downright tasty for Monsieur Gator.
If all this bayou cooking (albeit with characters from the book as ingredients) gets your mouth a-watering, a recipe for "Maman's Spicy-Hot Gumbo" adorns the back cover of the book. Sally Anne Lambert (of Barkus, Sly and the Golden Egg captures the expressions of the tortured old gator and the taunting bullies with great skill, and her use of color and composition is no less than exquisite. A spicy-hot read-aloud, straight from the bayou. (Ages 5 and older) --Karin Snelson
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3--This is a classic tale of contemptuous characters getting a well-deserved comeuppance, with a few interesting twists to spice up the dish. Poor Monsieur Gator is too old to catch his dinner, a fact that has not escaped his former prey--a possum, an otter, and a skunk. As he barely scrapes by on vegetables, the cruel animals tease him endlessly. Finally, Monsieur Gator decides to cook up some gumbo, "just like Maman used to make," and in a sequence straight out of "The Little Red Hen," he asks his tormentors to help him gather the ingredients. Of course they refuse to participate until the fragrant stew is ready and they gather around hoping for a taste. The wily old predator obliges by tricking them into the pot. Although Lambert's watercolors capture the general mood of the swamp, the absence of anything resembling palmetto fronds or moss-hung cypress trees is telling. Also, anyone who has ever cooked gumbo will immediately recognize that Monsieur Gator's recipe is way off base. Fortunately, the story flows well in spite of these slips and Gator ultimately accomplishes his goal. Both the story and the illustrations are well executed. For more authentic swamp scenes and Cajun critters, mix in anything by Tynia Thomassie, J. J. Renaux, or Sharon Arms Doucet.--Sean George, Memphis-Shelby County Public Library & Information Center, Memphis, TN
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Top customer reviews
This is a version of the Little Red Hen where the not-helping animals are really rude instead of just lazy - and they get what they deserve when, after begging for Just One Taste, they fall right in the pot!
A few notes that struck me as odd, though many kids would probably not notice. First, the animals go into the pot without being skinned or even taking off their clothes. Uh, ew? And second, they fall in of their own accord - the gator doesn't help them in any way, they're just that greedy. That's a little weird to me. I understand why it was done, but I would've expected some sign that the alligator pushed them or something. *shrugs*
Really funny book, nice set-up to a great ending, though.