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Newbery or Not: True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

Book Blurb: 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.

Pub Stub: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, July 2013, ISBN-10 1442481218

Author Tidbits: Appelt, Kathi. 2008 National Book Award finalist and 2008 Newbery Honor recipient for The Underneath. Has written over 30 books for children of all ages.

Newbery or Not: Already a National Book Award Finalist, True Blue Scouts is a definite contender. A unique cast of characters (raccoons, rattlesnakes, a sleeping swamp man, and a 6-foot-tall 12 year old), unusual setting (bawn on da bayou!), and distinct narrative voice certainly put this story in the realm of the distinguished. On the other hand, the narrator can come across as overwhelming, and a talking animal story just won last year. Still, nosotros somos paisanos. Good luck to Bingo and J’miah.

Weigh In: Did you read True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp? How do you like its chances?

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