Twelve-year-old OCEAN RIVER is a goofy kid. He’s never met a problem he couldn’t solve with a joke or a silly dance. When his best friend, ELLEN HANSEN, loses her father, life suddenly became a lot more serious, and Ocean’s immature antics at the funeral threaten to ruin their friendship forever.
Just a few miles away, in the swampy jungle of the Everglades, another young boy named GUMBO struggles with his born destiny. This boy just happens to be an alligator, the heir to the great gator kingdom. Not only is Gumbo reluctant to be a leader, but his father, the king, has ordered him to kill several pythons by the next day. The problem is Gumbo’s a pacifist. And a vegan. And, oh, deathly afraid of snakes.
Gumbo and his best friends, BIX, a naïve, cheerful soft-shelled turtle, and their guru, ASHA, a wise old wood stork who’s teaching Gumbo yoga, reluctantly set off on their mission. Meanwhile, the humans are on a mission of their own: a family vacation to the Everglades—Ellen’s belated birthday gift—holds the hope of saving Ocean and Ellen’s friendship. When a tour boat crash leaves the kids lost and alone in the gator-infested swamp, they receive animal superpowers from a legendary Seminole Indian ghost. Now they can talk to animals, including Gumbo, and it seems like getting lost together was just what they needed.
Except, of course, for the giant mutant python who has serious plans for dinner . . . and revenge.
In this funny and heartwarming fantasy set in the fragile ecosystems of the Everglades, Ocean and Ellen and their new animal friends learn how to let go of the past and trust each other in the present, where forgiveness and empathy—even for killer pythons—might just save the day.