The true blue scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
by Kathi Appelt.
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Book list *Starred Review* Swamps provide great fodder for stories, and Newbery Honor Award-winning Appelt uses every inch of the Sugar Man Swamp and its inhabitants to tell her engaging tale. At the helm of the complex ecosystem is the Sugar Man, a gigantic, fur-covered cousin to the yeti and bigfoot, who rules benevolently but has been asleep for the past 60 years. He is to be woken, preferably with an offering of sugarcane, only in the case of an emergency. Bingo and J'Miah, two raccoons who live in an abandoned DeSoto car, are the official Sugar Man Swamp scouts, and it's their job to alert him to impending danger. Meanwhile, on the edge of the Bayou Tourterelle, a 12-year-old boy named Chap has just lost his beloved grandfather, and he and his mother must raise a whole boatload of cash making sugar pies to prevent Sonny Boy Beaucoup and an alligator wrestler from developing a theme park on their home turf. On top of all that, there are wild hogs headed straight for the swamp rumble, rumble, rumble! This delicious, richly detailed story is told in 104 short chapters, which swing the plot beautifully from one thread to the next and keep the action moving. Appelt's omniscient third-person narration exudes folksy, homespun warmth while also feeling fresh and funny. A satisfying romp with plenty of memorable characters to root for and some to boo. Illustrations to come.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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