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The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  4,946 ratings  ·  643 reviews
Meet Bingo and J’miah, raccoon brothers on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp in this rollicking tale and National Book Award Finalist 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 magnanim
ebook, 336 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2013)
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Kenya Starflight Unless you count a bit of silly lovey-dovey talk between two wild pigs as romance, no.

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  4,946 ratings  ·  643 reviews

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Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book. This book, this book, this book. Friends, I have been wrestling with it since last spring, and I still don't know what the heck to do with it.

All of my discerning Goodreads friends love it. Monica Edinger loves it. Lisa Von Drasek loves it. It's on the National Book Award shortlist.

As for me? I picked it up last March or so, got thirty pages in, and promptly threw it over the cubicle wall at Sam. The folksy voice of the intrusive narrator was just nails on a chalkboard to me. Sam agre
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children, tween-novel, dnf
I'm not going to finish this one. I found it disjointed, slightly amusing and not that interesting. As a librarian, I read these books always with the intended audience in mind. To be honest, I'm not sure what kind of kid would enjoy this. The book uses some pretty advanced vocabulary but also feels sort of babyish. Weird. A MASS of characters abound and I think it would be hard for a child to pull all the threads in. The real problem is that it just isn't a very compelling tale. Bleh. ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Marcie by: Goodreads Group
Wow! Newbery Honor or not this will be on my next year's class reading list. I see so much potential for metacognition and reading, writing, and research that I think teachers will love this. I hope kid's do as well. And that from only half way. I've had to read a couple of chapters aloud to the dog just to see how it feels, sounds as a read aloud. I think this will be fun for discussion and although it was predictable, I liked that. I'm sure I missed many of the cultural references and humorous ...more
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
I'm sure Kathi Appelt is an excellent storyteller, but I just can't see it. While I enjoy her themes and plot elements, something about her folksy-cutesy narrative voice--and the way it shapes her unveiling of the plot--just grates on me to no end; her south Texas charm makes this Midwestern boy feel like an alien Yankee as far removed from her appeal as possible, and I have a hard time seeing past my annoyance with the surface telling to appreciate the underlying story. Still, I found this one ...more
The Dusty Jacket
Feb 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
Raccoons have been the official scouts of Sugar Man Swamp for eons (and that’s a really long time). Brothers Bingo and J’miah aren’t just ordinary swamp scouts. No, no, no! They’re Information Officers, a highly specialized branch of the Scout system. On the rooftop of Information Headquarters (which happens to look an awful lot like a 1949 DeSoto Sportsman) on the banks of the Bayou Tourterelle, our brave scouts keep vigil over their beloved swamp and try their very best to make their parents p ...more
Holly Mueller
I LOVED the audio of this book, narrated by Lyle Lovett. It's so charming, poignant, and funny. Lyle Lovett's voice was just perfect for the story. I've got a student reading it right now, and I can't wait to hear what she thinks. I don't know if the actual reading of it will be as good as the audio, but I hope so! Twelve-year-old Chap is missing his grandpa something awful, and he loves the swamp. Bingo and J-miah are raccoon brothers and new scouts of the Sugar Man Swamp, keeping watch from Ch ...more
Monica Edinger
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
After the darker tone of the author's previous two novels, this one is quite light while still feeling very much an Appelt with her signature folky and entertaining third person omniscient storyteller. It is the tale of a swamp in peril of being paved over by a couple of nefarious meanies who made me think of Carl Hiaasen's, of a son and mother with a small cane sugar pie business threatened by those aforementioned meanies, some charming raccoon bros with quite an appreciation for art, snakes (o ...more
Richie Partington
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: box1, fiction
Richie's Picks: THE TRUE BLUE SCOUTS OF SUGAR MAN SWAMP by Kathi Appelt, Atheneum, July 2013, 384p., ISBN: 978-1-4424-2105-9

"Now the night was bright and the stars threw light
On Billy and Davy dancin' in the moonlight"
-- Bruce Springsteen, "Spirit in the Night"

"In that bright new moment of the night, Bingo had one thing on his mind, one singular sensation: climb.
"J'miah had one thing on his mind too: prevent Bingo from meeting the same fate as Great Uncle Banjo. It was an unsettling thought,
Mar 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Kathi Appelt has an incredible ability to weave multiple story lines into a single narrative. I enjoyed the light-hearted tone and playful language of this book. I plan to write a complete review for Nerdy Book Club closer to the release date.
Julie Pickett
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review from Bookpage sums it all up. The only thing I'd add is how wonderful the audio version is, with Lyle Lovett narrating. He's fantastic!

Gather 'round readers , and welcome to Sugar Man Swamp in the Texas bayou, home of an intriguing menagerie that includes raccoons, rattlesnakes, wildhogs (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
Kim McGee
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not since The One and Only Ivan has a children's book with animals captured my heart the way that this one has. Life is in an uproar in the Sugar Man Swamp because the rumblin is a comin! The true blue raccoon scouts are keeping the peace and trying not to eat too many sweets, the rattlesnakes and possums and other critters are doing what they should be doing and young Chap is trying to become a man. A rumblin starts and all the inhabitants of Sugar Man Swamp are eager to stop it. An alligator w ...more
*Sigh* I'm gonna be *that* person again. The one who just couldn't connect with a book that everyone else loved. With the exception of Charlotte's Web and The One and Only Ivan, animal fantasy and me generally don't mesh well. ...more
Leah Agirlandaboy
Lyle Lovett’s narration was strangely lacking in dynamics, but it wasn’t enough to throw off this sweet, thoughtful, funny middle-grade novel about a boy, a pair of young raccoons, a rattlesnake named Gertrude, a mythical beast, a stack of sugar pies, and a stampede of feral hogs (yes, really). I love love loved the Sharon Creechesqueness of Appelt’s “Maybe a Fox,” and this wasn’t that, but I can’t wait to read more of her books.
Elizabeth Hall
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was great fun. Like the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, there is a story for the kids, and a few tidbits for adults. Highly recommended.
Danica Midlil
I had some real problems with this book.
All the repetition got real annoying. The coffee was "hot, hot, hot, bitter, bitter, bitter" at least eight times throughout the story. Several characters kept bringing up "A boat-load of cash!" blah blah blah The rattlesnakes all went "Snip snap zip zap" again and again and again and again. I GOT IT! Enough.
The main character is twelve years old and has just lost his beloved grandfather. He's working very hard (theoretically) to help his mom run their
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-enjoy-again
The asides to the reader were interesting... I thought that twee style in juvenile fiction went out of fashion over a century ago except for Kipling's "O Best Beloved." I wouldn't mind if Appelt brought it back... except that sometimes her slang was a little too contemporary. I mean to say "Well, sports fans, ..." is going to go stale pretty darn soon now.

The ending is implausible, even given fully sentient raccoons etc. (view spoiler)
Mari Anne
Jul 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mg-ya
I thought this was an adorable story but I am not sure I agree with some of the readers on Goodreads that it deserves to be a Newberry contender. While I thought the story was cute, if a bit fantastical, I found there was a disconnect between the story, its intended audience and the language used. No foul language, just really big words, some of which even I had to look up. Also, while I enjoy the occasional talking animals I found this to be written kind of tongue in cheeky and sarcastically, w ...more
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
The writing is superb. The story is so well-constructed! The reader continually wonders how the cast of widely diverse characters will come together to save the swamp---Chap Braeburn who runs the local pie shop with his mom, his deceased grandpa's lost-in-the-swamp 1949 Desoto which is information headquarters for our raccoon scouts Bingo & J'miah, Sugar Man, the local cryptic, rattlers protecting the precious sugar cane, Sony Boy Beaucoup who is willing to sell off the swamp for an alligator wr ...more
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, middlegrade
A cute story of family, bravery and doing what is right. Short chapters make this a great read-aloud. (3rd-6th)

Audio note: The narration by Lyle Lovett was excellent. His smooth, almost sleepy, voice added much to the Bayou setting.
Brenda Kahn
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, family, animals, honor
Only Kathi Appelt can make raccoons appealing. This one rolls out oh so slowly, but the language is lovely and the swamp and all its denizens come to life. Lyle Lovett's narration was smooth as sugar but I think I would've preferred the author reading. ...more
Brad D
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
It was pretty good, but got boring in some parts.
Logan Samuels
Feb 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I got lost in the first few pages. The story was kinda everywhere. I couldn't ever understand who's viewpoint it was. ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet story full of love, humor, and adventure, with a poignant lesson about the environment and The preservation of nature. The familial bonds between the raccoon brothers, J'miah and Bingo, and between 12-year-old Chap Brayburn and his late grandfather Audie are what power the storyline. I'm told that the audio version is a must-listen. My daughter and I both enjoyed this tremendously; she's read it twice. ...more
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read aloud to my 1st grade twins - we all loved it and can’t stop talking about it.
Alex  Baugh
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: randomly-reading
Last October, I attended this year's Bank Street Book Fest. It was, to say the least, a literary star studded event and I had a wonderful time. During the day, we had breakout discussion sessions and out of the 10 group choices, I chose Mini Mock Newbery, led by Amy Sears from the Teaneck Public Library. Amy chose 5 books for a Newbery discussion. There were Doll Bones by Holly Black, P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia, Courage Has No Color, the True Story of the Triple Nickles: America's Fi ...more
Dec 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eight years old was one of the best years of my life. I was the oldest of my siblings (authority!) and I had just begun homeschooling. That meant I could read anything I wanted (within the checkout limits at our local library) while my mother taught my little brother the basics. All the same, I loved it when she read aloud to all of us in the mornings, and I couldn't get enough of animal stories. I adored Jim Kjelgaard's Big Red, Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows and anything Marguerite Hen ...more
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: children
I can safely say that I am not the person to review The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. I disliked it intensely, but it's hard for me to figure out how much of that is the result of failures on the part of the book itself, and how much of it is simply because the book is built of tropes, settings, and characters that don't do anything at all for me. I will try to separate the two, but I feel like it would be unfair of me not to state my conundrum up front.

The plot involves a pair of raccoon
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt is a tall tale of the South Texas bayou about twelve year old Chap Brayburn, the ancient Sugar Man, and the raccoon brothers Swamp Scouts Bingo and J'miah, all trying to save Bayou Tourterelle from feral pigs Clydine and Buzzie, greedy Sonny Boy Beaucoup, and world class alligator wrestler and would-be land developer Jaeger Stitch.

Kathi Appelt is back with a story featuring outrageous, engaging characters, talking animals, lots of humor, ec
Brandy Painter
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

I have said it before: I don't love animal stories. I was pretty excited about The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt despite that, and not only because I heard wonderful things about it from others. No. It was because of the raccoons on the cover. See, I've always had a thing for raccoons. They were my favorite animal growing up. They began my love with rascally thieves really. And this book features a pair of adorable r
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
This book would probably please both those who loved The Underneath and those who didn't. It is told in a fun folksy way with short chapters that make for quick reading. Like in The Underneath she switches between the animal and human world effortlessly. She still has a little of Steinbeck's tone but, a much friendly kid style. The author also supports the length of the book by have a big cast and lots of action. She also breaks down the book into parts such as first night which is also helpful. ...more
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Lives in College Station, TX with husband Ken and four adorable cats.

Two sons, both musicians.

Serves on the faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts in the MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults Program.

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