A hound-dog puppy with a too-loud bark helps Papa Noel find his way through the Louisiana bayou on Christmas Eve.
A smattering of Cajun and French words lends authenticity to this story of swamp animals who must contend with Randolph’s “cover-your-ears loud” barking. Sac-a-lait fish, possums, and alligators are frightened by the pup’s eerie howling. The little coonhound can’t help himself, but the other pups are afraid he’ll scare Santa away. Alliterative text (“the biggest bark on the bayou”) pops, and sound effects are incorporated into the illustration as the little misfit puppy slinks away only to find himself in a position to help a grateful Santa to find his way through the bayou. Illustrations in soft, muddy tones are appropriate for the setting—this is not a picture book that screams “Christmas” with bright colors but one that will have a lot of appeal to children who don’t live in parts of the country that see snow. Instead, it’s rich language that makes this a good choice for a read-aloud: “With a jingle and a jangle and a loud ho-ho, the sleigh zooms off.” Randolph is a stand-in for the more famous Rudolph, with his own four verses that can be sung to the familiar tune. The author provides a glossary for French and Cajun words and phrases. Santa presents white.
Catchy and fun. (Picture book. 4-7)