A saucy version of the traditional tale of the fisherman and his wife, set in the Louisiana bayou.
Jacques loves to fish among the cypress knees while his wife, Jolie, cooks up gumbo and “[sings] so true, even the cicadas [hush] up to listen.” Life changes quickly, though, when Jacques catches a magic catfish, and Jolie makes him request a nice house and then a paddle-wheeler where she can sing for her adoring fans. Next, she asks to be made queen of Mardi Gras and finally, queen of the bayou. Always, the catfish smiles and says: “Ah, tooloulou—if that ain’t the easiest thing to do.” When Jolie’s powerful voice stirs up a hurricane, she understands her mistake and asks Jacques to make one more wish, returning her to her happy life singing in a shack on the bayou, devoted husband by her side. The dialect is not overdone here, and only a few Cajun French words are tossed in for atmosphere. The Louisiana setting is cleverly woven right into the details of the story—the magic catfish, paddle-wheeler, Mardi Gras, etc.—and the rich illustrations in blue and green tones bring the bayou, the river and the city to life.
This fresh Cajun twist on an archetypal tale will win fans down the bayou and well beyond. (glossary, seafood gumbo recipe) (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)