Candace Fleming  
Gator Gumbo: A Spicy Hot Tale
  Farrar, Straus &
Giroux, 2004
ages 4 to 8
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Gator Gumbo : A Spicy-Hot Tale 
written by Candace Fleming
illustrated by 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, 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.”

Awards and Honors
Booksense 76 Book

Read the Reviews
Borrowing from the classic tale about the Little Red Hen, Fleming cooks up a spicy brew about a crafty alligator who isn't spry enough to catch the critters taunting him, but has little trouble outwitting them. When Monsieur Gator decides to make a pot of gumbo, he asks Possum, Otter, and Skunk for help. They snicker, snort, and snap their refusals, but when Gator wonders who will help him eat the stew, the hungry critters all cry, “Me! Me!” With much pleasure, Gator notes that he did all the work, “So now I'm gonna eat the gumbo all by myself.” But that isn't the end of the hungry gator's revenge; Possum, Otter, and Skunk are in for a big, messy surprise. Lambert's detailed, winsome pictures are beautifully rendered. Their characters are full of expression and mischief, and they nicely capture the flavor of the Louisiana bayou setting. The colloquial speech and sprinkling of French words, combined with a fairly lengthy text, make this a good choice for older children.

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