A determined little boy finds truth in his father’s words about the larger-than-life catfish on the end of his fishing line.
Tired of gumbo, Thibodeaux boards his pirogue and heads for Bayou Fryou to catch Pantagruel, “that big old catfish” with three hooks in his mouth. Thibodeaux nabs the wily fish with bacon and bread, giving him the fourth hook, but Pantagruel demands that the boy cut the line. If he doesn’t, Pantagruel promises to drag him “all the way to Longue Chaise Bay, where the giant crabs will eat you.” Despite disadvantages of size and strength, Thibodeaux refuses. When no one comes to his rescue, he must solve this conundrum himself. Peppered with French Creole words and references to New Orleans cuisine, this story offers a glimpse into Louisiana bayou folklore. While young readers will enjoy hearing of Thibodeaux’s solo adventure, Casey’s illustrations give the story a distinctive mood. The painterly, acrylic-on-canvas paintings have a black background, and Casey makes some scenes intentionally out of focus to increase the mystery of events. She also uses perspective to good effect, often putting readers right up to Pantagruel’s mouth—hooks and all. As Thibodeaux moves back toward safety, blues and reds replace blacks, lightening the mood as the conflict resolves.
A delightful story of an antagonist who becomes a little less antagonistic because of one smart and kind boy. (Picture book. 4-7)