Kathy Appelt engages her readers by making them a character in her story--the audience, as it were. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Lexile: 810; Interest Level: Grades 3-6) is told in true "storytelling" style, as the author addresses the audience and engages them with the tale. With three intertwining plot lines, the story in engaging all on its own.
First, you have the racoon brothers, Bingo and Jeremiah, who work as Scouts for the Sugar Man. It's their job to keep the swamp safe by listening for the "voice of intelligence" and waking the Sugar Man in case of an emergency. And, an emergency is on the way when a gang of feral hogs decide they want to eat the cane break sugar that grows in the swamp. So, the second story is sort of the story of the hogs.
And the third story? Well, it's the story of Chap Brayburn and his mom, who run the Paradise Pie Cafe. The owner of the swamp wants to let Jaeger Stitch build a World Alligator Wrestling Arena and Theme Park on the swamp, which means that Chap and his mom would have to move. Chap is determined to save his mom's business and the Swamp, which he can't do without the Sugar Man. See how those stories connect?
With lots of great humor and insightful looks at the ecosystem of a swamp, readers will delight in the story of the Sugar Man Swamp. I am very glad this book is a 2015 Indian Paintbrush Nominee! (326 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.