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The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,858 ratings  ·  483 reviews
Meet Bingo and J'miah, raccoon brothers on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp in this 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 magnanimously rules over t
ebook, 336 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2013)
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Newbery 2014
9th out of 93 books — 421 voters
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SLJ's Battle of the Books (2014)
6th out of 15 books — 12 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rachael Stein
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
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.
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
Aug 03, 2013 Marcie rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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, o
Julie Pickett
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
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
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.
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 alligato ...more
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
Mari Anne
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
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
Double points for this amazing tale of derring-do and attention to duty in an amazing ecological environment, a bayou full of ancient old cypress trees, alligators, true blue scouts of the raccoon variety, and maybe, just maybe, the ivory billed woodpecker. (Do you remember the stir created a while back when it was thought that an ivory bill might have been sighted in Arkansas? If only!) Then there's Chap Brayburn, who loves the Sugar Man Swamp almost as much as he loved his Grandpa, and the das ...more
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
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.
*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.
The main character, a serious, determined 12 year year old, Chap (grieving for his grandfather) is an earnest foil to the many layers of humour .

This is a story of caring for the environment, beating the developer and the triumph of ordinary folks. In that it has quite a similarity to Carl Hiaasen's books. Where it differs is in the rhythm and playfulness of the language, the richness and extended vocabulary and in the mythical creature Sugar Man. He and the wily raccoons (the scouts) and the fi
Julie Williams
Only 2 1/2 months or so of 2013 and I have so many books I still want to read. I look at blogs and lists for what are considered the "best". I also have to think what will appeal to kids for the Maine Student Book Award and what is on the list of nominees for the Cybils. This is one book that has been on some "best" lists. I checked it out of my local library before I started getting Cybils nominees so I felt like I needed to finish it first.

I am not always a fan of the animal fantasy so I had t
Brandy Painter
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
Two little raccoon brothers take their roles as Scout Swamps very seriously, watching over the Sugar Man Swamp and ready to awaken the guardian Sugar Man when danger is imminent. Chap and his mother run a cafe where they serve "sugar pies" made from the sugarcane that grows on their doorstep. Chap is still grieving from the recent death of his beloved grandfather, Audie, whom he strove to imitate in all things. And the official owner of the swamp is raising the rent on the cafe so that he can ch ...more
Alex Baugh
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
I will be the first to admit that animal stories are not usually my first choice in reading. Except when it comes to books by Kathi Appelt. Her gift with the language of southeast Texas, and her ability to humanize her animal characters while maintaining a clear sense of their unique species characteristics, make books like Scouts or her Newbery Honor Book, The Underneath, shimmer with literary magic. Appelt's down home storytelling, with its winks and nods to the reader, absolutely begs to be ...more
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
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
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I tried to listen to this and couldn't get past the first 5 minutes. The narrator read without even trying to do voices and in comparison to the rich audio experiences otherwise available, this didn't seem worth wasting my time on. I will try to update if/when I try the actual book since I typically enjoy Kathi Appelt.
I think Kathi Appelt has a style that people have to understand or else they won't like her stories. Now, I'm normally not a fan of down-home, Southern stories (like Appelt's), but the plot of this book looked too much like something that I'd love for me to NOT read it. And I'm glad I chose it. The whole time I imagined a warm and intelligent Texas grandmother with her arm around my shoulder spinning a great tall tale that seems to never end, and the story is just as much of a treat as the mouth ...more
The audio-book was a delight- Lyle Lovett was the next best choice (after Waylon Jennings) :)

Friendship, fairness, love, and sugar pies- what more could you ask for in a story?
Benji Martin
I can't wait to give this a book commercial next week, when school starts. I know that the kids are going to love it. They are always looking for talking animal books, like Ivan, and my school is a bit Big Foot obsessed.

I really loved the narrator, and the raccoons are very lovable. I'm not going to be able to see a rear view mirror without imaging a 'coon hanging from it for a while.

I wish that I could have read this book as a child. As an adult, I pretty much knew how it was going to end fro
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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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“Nosotros somos paisanos. We are fellow countrymen. We come from the same soil.” 4 likes
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