"Alligatorís Sunday Suit." In Bo Rabbit Smart for True: Folktales from the Gullah. Retold by Priscilla Jaguith. Philomel Books, 1981.

Ethnic Origin: Gullah.
These people were brought to America in the 1700s for slave labor. They worked on plantations on the sea islands of Georgia and the Carolinas and were isolated from interactions with others. Through this isolation they developed their own dialect and customs. This culture is quickly fading because of development of the sea islands.

Running Time: 7 minutes

Power Center(s):
Bo Rabbit collecting the broomsage and starting the fire.
Alligator and family bursting through the flames to the creek.

Bo Rabbit
Alligatorís Wife
Alligatorís Children


Alligator once had skin that was smooth and white but that was before he met Bo Rabbit and learned about trouble. He wanted to see trouble so Bo Rabbit offered to show him. Alligator and his family met Bo Rabbit in the broomsage field the next day. Bo Rabbit set the field on fire. Alligator and his family burst through the flames into the creek. When they looked at their skin, they saw it was blackish green and bumpy. Itís been that way ever since that day Alligator went looking for trouble.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor"

Audience: 3rd and 4th graders
Huck says that 8 and 9 year olds "seek specific information to answer questions." Although this is not the real reason an alligatorís skin is bumpy and blackish-green, it is a fun way to answer a question that could likely be asked be an eight or nine year old.

Bibliographic information on other versions/variants:
"Run, Brer Gator, Run!" In The Days When the Animals Talked. By William J. Faulkner. Chicago: Follett, 1977.
"Why the Alligatorís Back is Rough" In Nights With Uncle Remus. By Joel Chandler Harris. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1881.

Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than content:
I did not choose to tell the Joel Chandler Harris version because it was impossible to read. (And this coming from someone who grew up on Brer Rabbit stories and visited the Uncle Remus Museum at least five times.) Not being able to understand the story when you read it is a sure sign that you shouldnít tell that version. It was written supposedly in the dialect of former slaves in the piedmont area of Georgia; however, presently these stories are criticized for a contrived dialect. This version repeats the word trouble in sets of three during three different sentences of the story.

Faulknerís version was easier to understand; however, it adds another character, Brer Fox, to the story. I wanted to keep my first story simple. Therefore, I chose the story where I would only have to remember two main characters. Brer Gatorís skin is described as smooth like a sharkís skin. Brer Rabbit yells "Fields on fire. Run Gator Run" several times. The ending is weak where alligator finds out his skin is rough and bumpy. This version is different because Brer Gator is not claiming that heís never seen trouble. Instead he claims he is the smartest creature in the world.

Jaquithís version describes his skin as "white as a suit good enough for Sunday." It also uses language such as "you ainít", "sun dries the dew off the grass," "arguefy," "trouble stands, " "fire hot, and "spashow". She also repeats sounds such as "hirr, hirr ..." "sazip, sazip..." and "kapuk, kapuk..." I am not including them in my retelling because I am afraid it would be too much to remember. I chose this version because it seems to have fewer events to remember and the language is more descriptive and not as dry as the other versions.

All three stories have a fire that is started by Brer Rabbit in a broomsage field. This is why I chose to explain about a broomsage field in my introduction.