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Gator Gumbo: A Spicy-Hot Tale    by Candace Fleming & Sally Anne Lambert order for
Gator Gumbo
by Candace Fleming
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is a charming Cajun re-telling of The Little Red Hen, which replaces the motherly chicken with a sly old gator ... 'Monsieur Gator, he lives down in the bayou, oh yes he do', but he has a 'big problem, too.' This aging alligator moves too slowly to catch possum, otter or 'stripe-tailed skunk' and these critters take advantage and tease him mercilessly.

Poor Monsieur Gator is reduced to eating vegetables, pestered by his natural prey, 'Try, try, as hard as you can! you can't catch us, 'cause you're an old man!' Monsieur Gator steams and stews and decides to cook 'Gumbo!' Just like the little red hen, he asks for help and ends up doing all the work himself, adding 'white rice, sharp spices, tangy okra, and sweet crawdads'. The enticing aroma brings all the critters around the pot.

You can guess what's next, and Monsieur Gator ends up satiated by 'gumbo just like Maman used to make.' Though Gator Gumbo is great fun (The Little Red Hen spiced up with Brer Rabbit), quite a few lessons are also boiled up in Monsieur Gator's big pot - about assumptions and about bullying, as much as about helping.

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