Unlike the darker tone of Appelt’s previous two novels (Keeper and The Underneath — I’m a fan of both), The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp has a much lighter sensibility along with her signature folky and entertaining third person omniscient storyteller. This is the tale of a swamp in peril of being paved over by a couple of nefarious types 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 (one is mystical — a far relative perhaps to the one in The Underneath?), a tall tale-larger-than-life (truly) figure, and some quite outrageous hogs — just to get started. Over-the-top improbable, full of wild contrivances, absurd, and great fun to read indeed. One I could definitely see reading aloud to my fourth graders come fall.
Hope the publisher plans to have some of those sugar cane pies around when the book comes out. I’m craving one of them something fierce!