Gator Gumbo: A Spicy-Hot Tale

Gator Gumbo: A Spicy-Hot Tale

by Candace Fleming, Sally Anne Lambert
     
 

A new take on The Little Red Hen -- Cajun style

Poor Monsieur Gator is getting old and is moving so slow he can't catch himself a taste of possum or otter, or even a whiff of skunk. Day after day those animals tease and taunt him until, finally, he decides to cook up some gumbo just like Maman used to make. But who will help him boil, catch,

Overview

A new take on The Little Red Hen -- Cajun style

Poor Monsieur Gator is getting old and is moving so slow he can't catch himself a taste of possum or otter, or even a whiff of skunk. Day after day those animals tease and taunt him until, finally, he decides to cook up some gumbo just like Maman used to make. But who will help him boil, catch, sprinkle, and chop? Certainly not rude Mademoiselle Possum, ornery Monsieur Otter, or sassy Madame Skunk. But when the gumbo is ready, they're more than eager to enjoy the result of Gator's hard work and as they run to get a taste - "Slurp! Slip! Plop! Them animals go into the pot." "Mmm-mmm," says Monsieur Gator. "Now, this is gumbo just like Maman used to make."

Illustrated with wit and whimsy, this mischievous tale will have young readers laughing out loud.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Creole cadence, playfulness with words, and good ol' out-smartin' flavor this tasty tale.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Fleming's sprightly text bounces right along as 'Mince! Dice! Chop! Them spices go into the pot.' A hint of wickedness and the lilting Cajun rhythms will spice up story time.” —The Horn Book

“A classic tale of contemptuous characters getting a well-deserved comeuppance.” —School Library Journal

“Fleming has a rhythmic way with words...a winning readaloud.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Publishers Weekly
Until its rather shocking ending, this humorous picture book with its Cajun-flavored language and sly watercolors, contains many ingredients found in traditional tales. Like Br'er Rabbit, Possum pretends to be scared of aged Monsieur Gator as he taunts, "Puhleeze, don't eat me!" Reminiscent of The Gingerbread Man, Fleming's (Who Invited You?) three villains chant: "Try, try, as hard as you can! You can't catch us,' cause you're an old man!" And like the barnyard animals in The Little Red Hen, Mademoiselle Possum, Monsieur Otter and Madame Skunk all refuse to help as Monsieur Gator chops and peels the ingredients into the cauldron to make gumbo. The wily alligator lures the mischievous animals closer and closer to the pot until "Slurp! Slip! Plop! Them animals go into the pot" and he eats them, "Mmm-mmm!" Dynamic and full of atmosphere, Lambert's (Barkus, Sly and the Golden Egg) pictures start out showing the alligator as victim and emphasizing the nastiness of the trio's pranks (they pelt him with eggs, sticks and stones), the lushness of the bayou setting only slightly vitiating his misery. But given that these animals are smaller, younger and come to look more innocent than the increasingly squinty-eyed, sneaky Monsieur Gator, it's also likely that the audience will have identified with them. Although kids may wish for the characters' comeuppance, the bad guys haven't been bad enough for their demise to be satisfying, and the comedy isn't broad enough to make the final joke all that funny. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Down in the bayou, Monsieur Gator is old and tired. Too tired to chase down the critters he wants to eat for dinner. And those critters know it, too, and they sass and tease him all day long. When Monsieur Gator gets sick and tired of putting up with their nonsense, he sets out with a plan. He is going to make some gumbo just like his Mama made. Like the Little Red Hen, he asks who is going to help him with each and every ingredient and each and every time those lazy critters say, "I ain't." When all the ingredients are simmering in the pot, Monsieur Gator asks who will help him eat it. By now the boiling gumbo smells so good and those critters want to get some so they offer to help. Well, you can be sure that those critters are not going to get the gumbo so you'll have to read this deliciously wicked trickster tale to find out what happens to Monsieur Gator and the bayou critters! The lyrical pattern of this tale and the bayou dialect pull the reader into this tale just as the critters are pulled toward the gumbo. Readers, and critters, will not be disappointed in this tasty trickster tale. The illustrations of the characters are particularly well done and capture the personalities of the lazy critters and sly Monsieur Gator perfectly. 2004, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 4 to 8.
— Joan Kindig, Ph.D.
Library Journal
K-Gr 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 Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Poor Monsieur Gator, gettin' old and slow, can't catch himself a taste of critter, no how. He suffers silently as Mademoiselle Possum, Monsieur Otter, and Madame Skunk all tease and pester him-until he decides to make Maman's gumbo. Just like the Little Red Hen, he asks who will help build a fire, fill the pot with water, catch crawdads, pick okra, grind spices, and add rice. Of course, the critters all say, "I ain't!"-except when it's eatin' time. Beggin' for just a taste, M. Gator tricks them into the pot-slurp, slip, plop-makin' a gumbo "just like Maman used to make!" The appealing illustrations dress the animals in trousers and caps and provide visual puns like dropping an egg on Gator's head. Creole cadence, playfulness with words, and good ol' out-smartin' flavor this tasty tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780374380502
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
03/09/2004
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
224,936
Product dimensions:
8.82(w) x 10.91(h) x 0.39(d)
Lexile:
AD800L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming's picture books include A Big Cheese for the White House. She lives in Mount Prospect, Illinois.

Sally Anne Lambert has illustrated many picture books. She lives in Liverpool, England.

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