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