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The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp Paperback – May 20, 2014
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* "In a honeyed dialect, the omnipresent narrator directly engages readers, ricocheting between the hilarious human and critter dramas to a riotous finale. A rollicking, ripping tall tale with ecological subtext." (Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW)
"Appelt 'nailed it.' She has weaved a delightful yarn with a cast of affable characters and somehow manages to make a rusted 1949 DeSoto in a Louisiana swamp a cozy home for two raccoon scouts--absolutely charming." (Harry Bliss, New Yorker illustrator and illustrator of Diary of a Worm)
“Kathi Appelt's amazing lyrical language with that perfect Southern cadence draws us deeper and deeper into the world of Sugar Man Swamp. Hilarious and heartfelt, Bingo and J'Miah draw you into their home, into the swamp and we care about each creature as though they are family.” (An Na, author of the Michael L. Printz Award-winning and National Book Award finalist A Step from Heaven)
* "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." (Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW)
* “Appelt returns with a rich tale set deep in a Texas swamp, full of critters including gators, rattlesnakes, and feral hogs. Brothers Bingo and J’miah are true-blue scouts (raccoons) who have set up house in an abandoned old DeSoto, adorning it with their artwork and following orders from the Voice of Intelligence (actually the lightning-enabled car radio). The young raccoons are affable and easy to root for as they attempt to stop the gang of wild hogs intent on destroying their beloved Muscovado sugar cane…. Appelt has adeptly intertwined the folksy narrative of a tall tale with a perfect blend of adventure and mystery, all the while subtly bringing an ecological message to the surface.” (Library School Journal, STARRED REVIEW)
*"As with her Newbery Honor book The Underneath, Kathi Appelt sets this captivating web of interconnected stories in the ancient forests of piney trees and integrates the alluring lore of the bayou. But she adopts a lighter voice, just right for a storyteller with a Southern drawl to read aloud.
Deep in the Sugar Man Swamp, raccoons Bingo and J'miah serve as Information Officers from the safety of a 1949 DeSoto. Whenever lightning strikes nearby, it triggers "the Voice of Intelligence" (children will quickly realize it's a radio) that often gives them orders. Chap, the 12-year-old grandson of Audie Brayburn, makes it his mission to find his grandfather's DeSoto and complete his quest of locating the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Ever since Audie's recent death, Sonny Boy Beaucoup, "the official owner" of the swamp, has threatened to run Chap and his mother out of their Paradise Pies Café, so that he can set up a theme park. The local radio announcer's daily sign-off bids "all you swamp critters to have a good day and a good idea," and each character gets at least one.
Appelt weaves the rich language of legends passed down through generations. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is as mythical as the Sugar Man. She carries weighty themes lightly, and spins a story that reminds us that kin extends beyond the prescribed family tree. By the end of the story, we understand that that includes "all the swamp critter." As Audie told Chap, they are paisanos, fellow countrymen. They come from the same soil. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness
Discover: Newbery Honor author Appelt's return to the bayou setting of The Underneath, with a lighter touch and an environmental theme." (Shelf Awareness, STARRED REIVEW)
"Librarians often say that every book is not for every child, but THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGARMAN SWAMP is." (The New York Times, July 14, 2013)
"Some books for young readers perfectly capture childhood...Ms. Appelt has a genius for causing disparate narrative elements to cohere suddenly and movingly, and her talent is on full display in this zestful romp for 8- to 12-year-olds." (Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2013)
Top Customer Reviews
It is LMAO funny. There is smart humor and goofy humor and physical humor and hyperbole and hysterical twists and turns of phrase.
It is filled with great language, words like aught, denizen, procyonid, falderal, Alouicious, extant, peccaries, ruminations, milieu, cryptid, and certitude.
It is a noisy book, crafted with a wealth of onomatopoeia that is both powerfully descriptive and really entertaining.
There are pirates and rowdy sea chanteys and canebrake rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus giganticus) and lullabies.
There are three really important, somewhat interrelated, environmental issues.
There is a wonderful twelve year-old boy character, Chaparral Brayburn, who has to deal both with the bad guys and with those raucous raccoon brothers.
There is an amazing development of interconnections between a sixteenth century conquistador, a bunch of evil hogs, and a rusted-out, somewhat magical car.
"His instinct was to head for the hills, but are there any hills in the swamp? We think you can answer that question all by yourself. Poor Leroy was stuck."
This one left me as wired as a great rock concert. I've preordered my finished copy. Now I'm wanting to know where I can get one of the tour tee shirts.
I will end this review with the wise words of KSUG DJ, Coyoteman Jim, "Have a good day and a good idea....Arrrrooooooo!"
Appelt once again shows off her fine gift for dialect, language, and character. This is a story that begs to be read out loud! I had the feeling while I was reading it that I was sitting on the author's front porch in a rocking chair listening to her spin me a yarn. There is comfort in this kind of story, where the good guys are just plain ol' folk (and animals), and the villains are so over the top mean that there's no doubt as to where they stand.
My problem with Sugar Man is in the plotting. It was just a jumbled mess to begin with, and if we had been sitting on the porch listening to this story, I would have delivered a sound kick to the author's rocking chair and told her to get on with it. We meet a lot of characters here, and they are presented in ways that sometimes seem convoluted. It was hard to get a firm grip on this narrative until a little over half way through, when things finally started to come together.
I did enjoy The True Blue Scouts! Bingo and J'Miah are great characters that made me laugh. I worry that young readers might not have the patience to sort through a rough beginning and still be around for when things really start to click. I hope they do, as they will be well rewarded. This one didn't quite live up to my expectations, but is still a recommend.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am a 10 year old boy, and this is my favorite chapter book. It is about two raccoon brothers, Bingo and J'miah, and a boy, Chap Brayburn, and his mother. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kimberly Benson
I'm usually a mystery reader, but every now and then I like something light and fun and amusing. Delightful story.Published 4 months ago by R. Wiggins
The cover does the book justice – kudos to the art department to capture the story in one image. And thanks for not spoiling it with the Sugar Man. Read morePublished 4 months ago by idea guy
I really enjoy this author. As a retired educator who still volunteers in a classroom each day; it is important to know what great literature there is out there for kids. Read morePublished 5 months ago by D-Man
I wish my own children were young enough I could read this aloud to them. Alas, I had to settle for reading it to myself, but I couldn't remain quiet. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kristin Howell
I loved this book because of bingo and J'miah's adventures and I felt so sad for chap when Audie died.Kathi Appelt is a loved writer.:)Published 7 months ago by mbcmommy
We thoroughly enjoyed the book! The characters were great, and you really developed a sense of caring for them.Published 7 months ago by B-Brain