The True Blue Scoutsof Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt is a charming middle grades novel about a pair of raccoons (the titular True Blue Scouts), a boy (Chap Brayburn), and their shared love of the swamps where they live.
I was only a few chapters into the book when I knew what would happen, how the overlapping stories would work together for a happy ending. I even stopped reading for a bit and wondered if I should even bother or should just forego the story altogether. In the end, the author’s voice encouraged me to continue because the book is told in a delightful way, almost as if the story were being read aloud to you. (This is one of the reasons why, about 2/3 of the way through, I told Rob we needed to buy a copy of this book for Bibi.)
I don’t think that the target audience for this book will be able to guess how everything will end quite as easily as I did but I know that children will find this book a joy. What they won’t realize is that, as they are hearing/reading it, they are learning a lot of interesting things about different species and how they behave, history of conquistadors and such. The subtle details of symbolism will be overlooked by younger audience members while older ones will have many “aha” moments of appreciation when subtle use of foreshadowing and delicious metaphors are used throughout. And if the adult doesn’t chuckle at the name of a particular group of hogs then I don’t know what to say about that adult’s sense of humor. This is one of those rare books that adults will enjoy sharing with their child(ren). (Again, I really want to get a copy for Bibi.)
Because of things that have been happening in the world all over the news, I wanted and needed a little something to read that would help me to escape and this book was a delightful choice.