Cajun Cornbread Boy

The Cajun Cornbread Boy by Dianne de Las Casas, illustrated by Marita Gentry.

This spicy twist on the Gingerbread Boy is a lot of fun.  Down on the Bayou, a little old woman makes a cornbread boy but when she opens the oven he runs away calling "Run, chere, run, as fast as you can! You can’t catch me – I’m full of cayenne."  The Cornbread Boy runs past a raccoon.  Then past a fox who surprisingly does not catch him, until he comes to the water of the bayou.  An alligator offers to carry the boy across.  Can you guess what happens next?  You may be surprised!

The writing here is filled with nice Louisiana touches that will have you doing your best Cajun accent.  If you manage an accent, the book rollicks along with phrases dancing with the rhythm and beat.  The illustrations are done with watercolor and ink.  This lends them a more rustic and handmade feel that is right at home here. 

Recommended as an alternative Gingerbread Boy that is perfect for hot summer days.  This could be nicely paired with one of my other favorite Cajun read-alouds Petite Rouge: a Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mike Artell.

The Bears in the Bed and the Great Big Storm

The Bears in the Bed and the Great Big Storm by Paul Bright and Jane Chapman

In a cozy cave, Bear and Mrs. Bear are fast asleep.  A storm blows through with wind howling and Baby Bear comes into their bed.  The thunder crashes and now Bear is awake and so is Little Bear who comes into their bed.  The lightning flashes and Bear wraps his pillow around his head.  Now Young Bear gets into their bed.  Suddenly there is a knock on the door that wakes them all up.  Could it be the monster who has been scaring the children all night?

The language in the book begs to be read aloud.  The storm is handled with plenty of drama, carrying the story forward easily.  There is a skilled rhythm to the writing that makes it easy to read as well as plenty of words that make it fun as well.  This is simple but evocative writing done very well.  The illustrations are aglow with warmth and tiny touches that make the cave feel like home to any reader.  The page with the monster on it is done in deep blues and purples that make it a direct contrast to the yellows and oranges of the cave.  It’s sure to get a shiver out of your audience.

A delight to read aloud.  This book should be included in toddler and preschool story times about bears and storms.  Appropriate for ages 3-6.