In The Media
October 16, 2013
Raccoon brothers Bingo and J'miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. Read more...
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Raccoon brothers Bingo and J'miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. The opportunity to serve the Sugar Man--the massive creature who delights in delicious sugar cane and magnanimously rules over the swamp--is an honor, and also a big responsibility, since the rest of the swamp critters rely heavily on the intel of these hardworking Scouts.
Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn is not a member of any such organization. But he loves the swamp something fierce, and he'll do anything to help protect it.
And help is surely needed, because world-class alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn Sugar Man swamp into an Alligator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, and the troubles don't end there. There is also a gang of wild feral hogs on the march, headed straight toward them all.
The Scouts are ready. All they have to do is wake up the Sugar Man. Problem is, no one's been able to wake that fellow up in a decade or four...
Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt's story of care and conservation has received five starred reviews, was selected as a National Book Award finalist, and is funny as all get out and ripe for reading aloud.
- ISBN-13: 9781442421059
- ISBN-10: 1442421053
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: July 2013
- Page Count: 326
- Reading Level: Ages 8-12
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-05-20
- Reviewer: Staff
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)
A tall tale from deep in the bayou
Gather ’round, readers, and welcome to Sugar Man Swamp in the Texas bayou, home of an intriguing menagerie that includes raccoons, rattlesnakes, wild hogs (the Farrow Gang), alligators, possums, an elusive ivory-billed woodpecker and much more. King of this ecosystem is Sugar Man, a cousin of Bigfoot who stays hidden and sleeping, only emerging during a crisis.
And indeed, a crisis is afoot, as owner Sonny Boy Beaucoup plans to turn 2,000 acres of the swamp into the Gator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, presided over by champion gator wrestler Jaeger Stitch.
The swamp needs rescuing, and the heroes are an unlikely trio. There’s a pair of raccoons named Bingo and J’miah who serve as Swamp Scouts, watching over the area and warning Sugar Man when necessary. Then there’s 12-year-old Chap Brayburn, who has lived here all his life. His mother runs the Paradise Pies Cafe, known for heavenly fried sugar pies made from the swamp’s canebrake sugar. Chap’s grandfather, who knew the swamp inside and out, has just passed away, leaving Chap to try to fill his shoes as human guardian of this special place.
Newbery Honor-winning author Kathi Appelt weaves these characters together in a lovely symphony, giving both animal and human viewpoints in numerous chapters, many of which are quite short. The book is a breezy read, full of excitement, and Appelt’s folksy, tall-tale style makes the novel a great choice for a read-aloud.
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp is a tour de force filled with thoughtful, admirable characters like Chap and his grandfather, and rollicking goofballs like the raccoon Swamp Scouts, who help save the day despite their tendency to get themselves in trouble. Underneath all the hijinks are real lessons to be learned about how different species live together and interact, about the importance of conservation and about the impact of development on a fragile ecosystem.
Readers will feel as though they’ve had a VIP tour of Sugar Man Swamp—the only thing missing is a taste of that famous fried sugar pie!