Reviews for Petite Rouge : A Cajun Red Riding Hood


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 July 2001
Reviewed with Sheila Hebert-Collins' 'T Pousette et 'T Poulette .Ages 3-7. Set in the heart of the Louisiana swampland, Petite Rouge blend lots of Cajun French language and culture into the lively storytelling. In Artell's funny, rhyming takeoff of "Little Red Riding Hood," the wolf is an alligator, and Petite Rouge is a sturdy young duck who doesn't need a woodcutter to rescue her. The alligator wants to have her for lunch, but she threatens him, "Dis pole gonna hit you / where you part your hair." With the help of her smart cat, she tricks the predator, and then she and Grand-mere sit down to a Cajun feast. Even older children will enjoy the mayhem and the parody, including the paintings in Grand-mere's house of solemn duck versions of the American Gothic and the Mona Lisa. There's a brief note on Cajun history and a glossary, but a storyteller familiar with the language will easily manage. Harris' wonderful watercolor-and-pencil pictures are filled with action and playful detail that extend the story. They make the alligator both scary and ridiculous--huge teeth and frilly nightgown are a perfect combination. ((Reviewed July 2001))Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall
Carrying goodies like shrimp etouffeE and gumbo to Grand-mEre, Petite Rouge Riding Hood, a duck, meets a hungry alligator, who says, ""I'll get me dat food / an' dat li'l girl too!"" Luckily, she outwits him, thanks to her cat and some hot sauce. Accompanied by action-packed, comical illustrations in watercolor and pencil, the dialect-laden verses make for good reading aloud. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2001 April #2
A slaphappy and musical rendering of Little Red Riding Hood comes straight from bayou country. Here Little Red is not just a duck, she is also Petite Rouge and she is off to visit her grand-mère who is "down wit' de flu." She jumps in her pirogue with her trusty cat TeJean to deliver "a taste a' dat boudin / or shrimp etouffée." But who do they run smack into but Ol' Claude, one big gator. Now Claude also has etouffée on his mind, and Petite Rouge fights him off, but not before he learns where she is headed. He makes tracks for grand-mère's place, scares her into a closet, and then tries to pull the classic fast one on Petite Rouge. In the Cajun-inflected rhyme scheme that ferries the book forward, Petite Rouge expresses her suspicions: "Petite Rouge, she say, ‘Grand-mère! / I know you been sick, / but I t'ink mah eyes / be playin' on me a trick." When Claude realizes the jig is up, he makes a jaw-snapping lunge for Petite Rouge, who, with the aid of TeJean, pops a string of hot-saucd boudin in his mouth. Claude races to the swamp to cool his chops and Petite Rouge and Grand-mère retire for a pleasant lunch. Lyrical and visually hilarious--the watercolors by Harris are sharp-edged and humorously detailed--with a feast of Cajun words and sounds. Readers "be roll' on dat floor an' dey laugh deyself good." (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 May #1
Artell (Starry Skies) sets his funky, rhyming retelling in the Louisiana swamp, where a young duck named Petite Rouge sets out to bring her ailing Grand-mère a basket filled with bayou fare, including gumbo and boudin (sausage). Her mother issues an emphatic warning: "Don' stop in de swamp!/ Don' you stop on de way!/ 'Cause de swamp's fulla gators,/ Cher! Dat's where dey stay!" Sure enough, six or seven quatrains later, the duck comes across a gator named Claude, and "Petite Rouge gotta honch/ dat ol' Claude t'inkin' he'd/ like to have her fo' lonch." Even those who don't favor the dialect will laugh at Harris's (Ten Little Dinosaurs) abundantly witty watercolor and pencil illustrations. He excels at comic absurdity, as in the pictures of the enormous Claude stuffed into Grand-mère's bed, wearing frilly pajamas and matching hat, with swimming flippers on his feet and a rubber beak strapped onto his snout to make him look like a duck. Droll visual details include Grand-mère's reposing in curlers, the surreptitious adventures of some mice and an image of the duck's pet cat, TeJean, hoisting a bottle of red sauce in this version, the heroine pours hot sauce over a piece of boudin and tricks the gator into eating it, whereupon he runs to cool off his maws in the swamp. A sassy, spicy outing. Ages 5-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2001 June
Gr 1-3-A wonderful, sly, and humorous story told in rhyme and illustrated with verve. Artell avoids the temptation to throw in too many unfamiliar words, and places the handful of definitions for the Cajun terms he does use in a glossary at the beginning. The amusing verse scans well; the watercolor-and-pencil illustrations teem with details of Cajun life and add immeasurably to the fun. Petite Rouge is a goose in this version, with a perky cat, TeJean, for a companion. Readers are challenged to find a little mouse that appears in each picture and watches all of the goings-on. Of course, instead of the big bad wolf, there is Claude, "dat ol' gator," who frightens Grand-mère into a closet and dons her clothing. When Rouge and TeJean notice Grand-mère's huge teeth and realize they're in trouble, they throw a boudin (sausage) drenched in hot sauce into the villain's mouth, which does the trick. Claude, who thinks he has eaten Petite Rouge, jumps into the swamp to cool off. The last illustration shows him still dressed in Grand-mère's pajamas, lying by his cypress tree, with signs all around him that say: "Don' feed dis gator." The text explains, "Ol' Claude reckon people/be too hot to eat./He don' know dat de hot sauce/done made all de heat." All in all, a treat from start to finish.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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