Bayou Preservation

The bayous are an important and diverse ecosystem. They also play an important role in protecting the mainland from hurricanes.

  • What unique plants and animals are mentioned in the book?
  • If these species do not flourish elsewhere how important do you think it is to preserve their habitat?
  • What particular ecosystem is mentioned by Dezi? What plants and animals live in and depend on this habitat?
  • How do bayous protect the mainland from hurricanes?
  • What does Bart mention is happening to the bayous? [BTW: His statement is grossly inaccurate and he learns the true statistic in Marsh Monster.]

Voodoo Religion

Voodoo is practiced almost exclusively in Haiti. However, it has migrated with its practitioners to wherever Haitians have settled. In the United States this means primarily Louisiana (and Florida).

  • What Voodoo practices are mentioned in the book?
  • Which infamous practice of the religion is NOT mentioned?
  • How has Voodoo mixed with the practice of Catholicism in Louisiana?
  • What do you think are the major beliefs of Voodoo?
  • Does it sound like Voodoo calls upon evil forces or good?
  • What does the Bible say about false religions; would God be pleased?

Christianity: Living Faith

Their Christian faith is a very real and important part of Peter and Bart’s lives. Do you know people who have a faith that you admire? Do you know people who claim to have “religion” or “spirituality” but their lives don’t show it?

  • How do Bart and Pete live out their Christian faith?
  • How is their faith evident? What faith practices are mentioned?
  • Do you see “religion” as a crutch or a real help?
  • How about Dezi?
  • How do you think Christians ought to live out their faith?

Being True to YOU

Peter and Bart have a grasp on who they are; they don’t pretend (except in play) to be someone other than themselves. They use their minds, faith and strengths to overcome the challenges they face.

  • Do you have challenges in your life you find difficult to deal with?
  • What are your particular strengths?
  • How can they be used in this life to help you and others?

Things aren’t always as they seem

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and that is true. To really judge a book it must be read. The same is true for people. How they appear on the outside might not be a true indicator of who they are inside.

  • Did the book deliver something different than you expected?
  • In the book, Dezi appears to be a bit off his rocker and looks like he might be a homeless vagabond. However, he is highly intellectual and has a doctorate degree from an acclaimed university. Why is he perceived as he is? What reason does he give for the way he acts?
  • What other things appear one way in the book but then turn out to be different than expected?
  • How will this discovery change how you view others?

Interracial Relationships

Bart is black, from an Indian-African heritage. Pete is white, from a European heritage. They are best of friends. Their color doesn’t even come in to play in their relationship. This crosses some of the boundaries of the Deep South. In Louisiana, blacks and whites still live very much apart and, except for the interplay on the music scene, do not generally mix.

  • In your opinion, are there reasons that races should not mix?
  • What would you do if you saw others belittling of treating someone badly or unjustly because of the color of their skin?
  • What does the Bible say about equality?
  • How about the U.S.A. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution?
  • What can you do to end racism and bring “justice for all”?

The Cajun and Creole language: Arcadian French

These languages have their origin in the United States, but are a mix of languages from other countries. French is the tongue of the Arcadians who migrated to Louisiana from eastern Canada. There it mixed with English and Africa and Caribbean languages to become a distinct dialect.

  • What are some unfamiliar words or phrases that caught your eye in the book?
  • What is your favorite phrase or word from the book?
  • What languages do you hear around you every day?
  • What languages do you know? Which languages would you like to learn?

Caring for others

Bart and Pete see ALL people as equally important. It is said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. The Bible says to “consider others as more important than yourself.”

  • What does this saying mean to you?
  • How can you be more caring about the people you know?
  • Have you ever considered relief work, a mission trip or building a house with Habitat for Humanity?
  • How do you give your time to others?


It is said that cowardice isn’t the lack of fear, but the lack of action in the face of fear. Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for a friend.” A common Old Testament admonishment is: “Be strong and courageous.”
  • What do you think it means to be brave?
  • What books or movies have you seen where the hero makes self-sacrifices or takes risks in the face of fear for others? How does it make you feel?

Adventure in Life

Life is what you make it. It can be as dull as watching mud crack or as wild as, well, a Bayou Boys Adventure.

  • Are you living your life to the fullest?
  • What thrills you? What invigorates you and inspires you?
  • What are you going to do about making your life better?
  • Go on YouTube and listen to “The Great Adventure” by Steven Curtis Chapmen.

Effects of Hurricane Katrina

According to Wikipedia: “Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic tropical cyclone of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall. At least 1,833 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane; total property damage was estimated at $81 billion (2005 USD), nearly triple the damage brought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.”

  • What was the largest social and racial profile of those who died?
  • What has happened in New Orleans since 2005?
  • Have we learned anything? Are improvements being made? What must still be done?
  • How can you help?

Suggested Viewing: “Hurricane on the Bayou” (an IMAX film, 2007; available on DVD)

Suggested Reading: Marsh Monster (2013), Playhouse Phantom (2013); Bayou Farewell (Mike Tidwell, 2004*) and River Rising (Athol Dickson, 2005). *PG: Some language may not be appropriate for children.

© Gregory E. Zschomler 2013

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