The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

Kathi Appelt, illus. by Jennifer Bricking. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4424-2105-9
Told from the perspectives of animals and humans, Appelt’s (The Underneath) rollicking tall tale exposes the trouble brewing in Sugar Man swamp. The main concern of Bingo and J’miah, two raccoon Swamp Scouts, is the approaching brood of feral hogs, which could destroy the precious canebrake sugar used to make fried pies at the local Paradise Pies cafe. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Chap Brayburn, the cafe proprietor’s son, is worried about rich, horrible Sonny Boy Beaucoup, who wants to turn the swamp into the “Gator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park.” The swamp’s salvation may lie with the furry, bearlike Sugar Man, whose “hands were as large as palmetto ferns” and “feet were like small boats,” but finding and awakening him is no easy task. The book’s folksy narrative adds brightness and humor to the story as Appelt explores the swamp’s rich history, varied denizens, and current threats. Heroes and villains are drawn in bold strokes, but while there’s little doubt who will emerge victorious, finding out how events unfurl is well worth the read. Art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 07/23/2013
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