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Petite Rouge


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About the Author

Mike Artell is an award-winning children's book author, illustrator and television cartoonist. Mike's books include nationally recognized lift-the-flap board books for small children and non-fiction books for older children. Mike has also written and illustrated teacher and parent resource books on subjects as diverse as ecology, parties, drawing and young authorship. In addition to his work as an author and illustrator, Mike also has extensive experience as- A musician who plays guitar, bass, keyboard and blues harmonica. A storyteller who regularly performs original poems and tales. A newspaper editorial cartoonist. A magazine and greeting card writer and cartoonist. A keynote speaker for major educational conferences. A marketing consultant/board member for several high technology companies. The host of his own television cartooning show. Each year, Mike shares his books and his writing/drawing techniques with thousands of students at dozens of schools across the country. During that same year, Mike typically writes and illustrates 2 books, conducts 6 teacher workshops, addresses 10 educational conferences and visits 6 libraries or children's museums. Mike also conducts "author/illustrator in residence" programs at schools. Mike has personally guided more than 4,000 students through the process of writing and illustrating their own picture books. For this work, Mike was recognized by the Northshore (LA) chapter of the International Reading Association for "exemplary service in the promotion of literacy." Several of Mike's books have been award-winners. Most recently, Mike's astronomy book for children, Starry Skies, was named a 1998 Best Science Book For Children by Science Books and Films magazine, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Mike's books have also been named "Pick of the Lists" by Publisher's Weekly, "Top 100" by Curriculum Administrator Magazine and "Teacher's Choice" by Learning Magazine.


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-m?re 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-m?re'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-m?re'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.

"Lyrical and visually hilarious." -Kirkus Reviews

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-m?re into a closet and dons her clothing. When Rouge and TeJean notice Grand-m?re'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-m?re'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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