Hercules on the Bayou

The Runaway Beignet


This is a delightful blending of Cajun folklore and Greek mythology. In this story, Hercules is hidden by ‘the queen’ in Louisiana where he is raised by local Cajun folk, Claude and Claudette. The story carefully refers to Zeus and Hera only as ‘the king’ and ‘the queen,’ avoiding any need to delve deeper into explanations. Hercules quickly grows strong and is relied upon and loved by all of the locals. The jealous queen sets various tasks before Hercules, which the author cleverly blend with traditional pourquoi tales like ‘Why do mosquitoes buzz in our ears?’ and ‘When did crawfish boils get started?’ Bright, colorful illustrations bring the story to life, and a glossary in the back describes some of the Cajun and mythological terms.

Greek mythology, Louisiana folklore, action, and adventure are all included in this picture book. The main character, Hercules, is sent down to the mortal world, specifically in the bayou of Louisiana. He must complete four labors for the Queen otherwise he will be tormented. The labors include many Louisiana-esque situations such as hurricanes, alligators, crawfish and mosquitos. After each task, there is a short folktale about each of the labors. For example, when Hercules defeats the mosquitos, the author explains that the reason they buzz in people’s ears is because they were angry that they could not overthrow Hercules. The illustrations add to the story immensely, by being vibrant, colorful, and captivating throughout. The way that Hercules is portrayed is much different from the stereotypical way of a blonde haired, blue eyed superhero. Having him look different in this book is refreshing. Additionally, there are many ways that this book can be used in curriculums. This is a perfect paired fictional text when researching the Cajun culture or Greek mythology. There is also a fabulous voice using French words and strong vocabulary.

Hercules on the Bayou

Hercules Faces His Biggest Challenge Yet… The Louisiana Swamps!

Hercules on the Bayou celebrates the rich culture of the French-speaking people in south Louisiana. The story stirs together myth and culture and is steeped in Louisiana traditions. Sent down to the hot and humid bayou from his kingdom in the clouds, Hercules performs four daring labors to escape the immortal queen’s wrath. Woven into the Labors of Hercules are mini pourquoi tales revealing elements unique to the Louisiana region including “Why do mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears,” and “How did crawfish boils began?” Written by an award-winning children’s educator, this adventure will have you shouting “Aiyee!” from start to finish.