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Summary: Somebody (or something) is going to have to wake the Sugar Man! Feral pigs Clydine and Buzzie were reigning terror on the Bayou Tourterelle and canebrake sugar fields; and Sunny Boy Beaucoup had his own thoughts about converting the Swamp to the Gator World Wrestling and Theme Park! Our choices are brothers Bingo and J'miah, who get their Intelligence Reports from the front seat of a 1949 DeSoto. Or Chap Brayburn (12) whose mom runs Paradise Pies Cafe - at least for the moment. If they don't come up with a "boatload of cash," they'll be totally lost. Humor, folklore, and family play big roles in this story with a conservation message.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 9 and Up; read yourself: 11 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: Kathi Appelt keeps the book interesting with short chapters and alternating between the J’miah and Bingo’s perspective and Chap’s perspective. I thought this novel was just the right length and would recommend it to boys and girls of all ages. The Sugar Man is an intriguing idea and adds a mythical aspect to the novel that is not too unbelievable. I would love to read more books like this and I know kids will love it.
Adult Reader Reaction: In the end, I enjoyed reading True Blue Scouts. Getting there, though, took some perseverance. I love Kathi Appelt's books, but I found this one trying to be too many things - animal fantasy, folktale, message story.
Pros: The search for a Swamp Bigfoot and a Boss Hog-type character anchor this story that all ages can enjoy.
Cons: Although this is for a pre-teen audience, the points of view switch between the swamp animals' world and the humans. This may be frustrating for some young readers.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is an enjoyable read, but it may not appeal to all readers.