Friday, February 21, 2014

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

written by Kathi Applet

Ages: 8 years+ (approximately grade 3 and up)

The raccoons of Sugar Man Swamp have always been the eyes and ears of Bayou Toutourelle.  This honorable duty has been passed down generation to generation.  Bingo and J'miah are heading up their very first scouting mission and couldn’t be more excited.  They settle into Headquarters, an abandoned DeSoto, and vigilantly keep watch (in between forays into the swamp for food as raccoons are notoriously hungry all the time).  Bingo and J’miah discover an incoming threat (a destructive family of feral hogs!) and must launch the emergency plan: wake the Sugar Man from his decades-long hibernation.  The Sugar Man is a mythical figure who protects the swamp and has huge palmetto leaf arms, tree trunk legs, a pet python and most importantly, a very short temper (especially when his sleep is interrupted).  Although the prospect of waking the Sugar Man from his oh-so-sweet slumber seems daunting, Bingo and J’miah know it is the only way to save the swamp.  On their quest they cross paths with twelve year old Chap, a boy whose family pie cafĂ© has been a staple in Sugar Man Swamp for years.  He’s on a mission to save the business from a greedy land developer and his feisty, alligator-wrestling partner.  Bingo, J’miah and Chap must learn to face their fears and stand up for what they believe in order to save their beloved home.  

This National Book Award finalist is an adventure filled with humor, quirky characters and fast-paced action.  It delivers an entertaining message of courage, family and conservation that will appeal to anyone who has ever felt like an underdog.  The folksy narrative is charming, distinctive, and vividly paints the picture of the marshy Sugar Man Swamp and its animal inhabitants.  Readers will enjoy how the different characters and plotlines intersect throughout the story and wrap up in the end.  This title is recommended for grades 3 and up.   

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