Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jocelyn Has Two Thumbs Up For Appelt's Latest Book

Meet Bingo and J’miah, raccoon brothers on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp in this tale from Newbery Honoree Kathi Appelt.

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 presents a story of care and conservation, funny as all get out and ripe for reading aloud.

Jocelyn says:
"Set in Sugar Man Swamp, somewhere in the wilds of Texas,  this story is told from such varied perspectives as- but not limited to- Bingo and J'miah—2 clever raccoons who take their job as Scouts very seriously—along with a kind radio DJ, a gigantic rattlesnake named Gertrude, pirates, countless alligators of course (this IS about a swamp, after all), as well as the Sugar Man himself.

12 year old Chap Brayburn and his mother call the Swamp home-and they love it  as much as his grandfather did, as much for the huge variety of wildlife as the special canebrake sugar used in his mother's special pies. His grandfather swore he even saw an Ivory Billed Woodpecker deep in swamp back in '49. Now his grandfather is gone, how can they protect this paradise from a greedy land developer?  It turns out there are even more threats to their idyllic life—an extremely ambitious woman alligator wrestler and 17 wild feral hogs also pose threats to the ancient Sugar Man Swamp.

Just selling more fried sugar pies doesn't seem to be the answer!

Enjoy Appelt's playful imagination as the solution unfolds.

Told in a down home, folksy style Appelt weaves her story- starting back in 1949- and back even further, to the beginning of the swamp itself. Seemingly random facts emerge seamlessly—we learn about the classic DeSoto, the Polaroid Land camera, the modern stretch Hummer—what is not included in this story you just don't need to know.

This reminds me of Carl Hiaasen's eco-adventures for mid-grades. Both enlist the reader in the fight against mindless development of our wild lands, though this is more fanciful, I must say (if not a tad silly—in a good way, though).

2 thumbs up—a good read for all who are willing to follow where Appelt leads."

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