It’s Fat Tuesday, and the bubbling gumbo needs some meat! Or does it?
Seeing the Courir de Mardi Gras, the ritual hunt, forming, a red rooster sets out to warn all the animals: “Le capitaine puts on / his capuchon. / Hey, alligator, / you better get gon’!” Once the goose, the pig, the crawfish, the oysters, and the other creatures have been likewise alerted (with the titular chorus), is the rooster’s work done? “The band is playing on the front stoop. / Oh mais chère, I better warn the coop!” In Lindsley’s vigorously brushed rural scenes, the comically gesticulating red rooster often occupies the foreground as, behind, a multiracial procession of revelers in colorful festival costume goes from farm to farm begging for a handout. Alas, the forewarned animals are all lying low—and so it is that “Across Acadiana with no animals in sight, / all the Cajuns eat gumbo z’herbes tonight.” Cultural notes and a recipe for “green gumbo” cap this mildly subversive nod to a Mardi Gras tradition and a delicious regional dish. Unfortunately, although the refrain is set in a contrasting display type, much of the narrative text is set in black type against deep blue skies, making large portions of it very difficult to read.
“I root for the chicken!” writes Downing. Readers with good eyesight, even carnivorous ones, will too. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)