Published : Monday, January 11, 2016 | 5:34 PM
Dr. Keith Polk, a Pasadena-based anesthesiologist turned children’s author, has published his first book, a 24-page picture storybook titled “The Mardi Grasfish,” in time for New Orleans’ biggest party, Mardi Gras, which kicks off in January and concludes on February 9, 2016.
A Louisiana native who now lives in Pasadena, Polk started attending Mardi Gras as a little boy and still thinks it’s one of the best parties on earth.
“Who wouldn’t love a parade where they throw sparkly beads and candy at you?” he says.
“The Mardi Grasfish” features the colorful, stylized art of Eric Miranda and tells the story of a kindhearted crawfish named Crawfrere, who writes to the mayor of New Orleans to convince him that his physically and emotionally-challenged friends from the bayou should win a local contest to ride the main float in the Mardi Gras parade. Mayor Billy the Big Mouth Bass is so moved by Crawfrere’s letter that he selects him and his friends to join the Krewe of Compassion that builds and rides the main float in the parade.
Crawfrere’s bayou pals – nearsighted Oculo the Oyster, slow-talking Creole the Catfish, puny Sauté the Shrimp, and Pecan the Pelican, who can’t fly straight – are lifted out of obscurity to become the toast of Mardi Gras and New Orleans. For the first time, they feel proud of who they are.
Mayor Billy is so impressed by Crawfrere’s selflessness that he dubs him King of the Mardi Gras and says Crawfrere is no longer a mere crawfish, but will forever be known as The Mardi Grasfish.
“The Mardi Grasfish” was inspired by Polk’s love of Louisiana’s rustic landscapes and colorful characters and, more importantly, by the children he has treated as a physician for 35 years.
“I’m a lot like Crawfrere, who teaches his friends that the sky’s the limit, and that they can overcome their disadvantages to accomplish their dreams,” Polk says, adding he feels tremendous compassion for the young people he has comforted before and after surgery as they have faced some of the most frightening moments of their lives without a parent by their side.
“The Mardi Grasfish” is the first in a trilogy of Crawfrere stories that explore the ways Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday,” is celebrated around the globe. The next two books are set inBrazil and France.
The picture storybook was produced by Judy O Productions and retails for $18.35 at www.themardigrasfish.com and at Vroman’s Bookstores in Pasadena and in The Huntington Hospital gift shop.
A Kindle edition is also available on www.amazon.com for $2.99.