Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Monday, August 5, 2013

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

How I Heard About It: One of my favorite read aloud books was The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.  I remember reading it to my class and many students were on the edge of their seats.  It was exciting to know that she was coming out with a new book.  I saw lots of pre-publication chat on Twitter which made it even more of an anticipation for the book release date.  

What It Is About:  How to describe this book?  That is the tricky part.  I can honestly say I've never read anything quite like this book.  This book would not be considered what I normally read, but I loved every word in this book.  The author took two raccoons, a snake, some hogs, a lovable boy who misses his grandfather, a shady business man, an alligator wrestling woman, some sugar pies, and of course the creature that "looks" after the entire swamp, the Sugar Man.  She mixes them all together to tell an incredible and unique story that keeps you hanging on until the very last page.  

What I Thought Of It: You can probably already tell that I absolutely loved this book.  It was a bit confusing at the beginning so I just slowed down and enjoyed the language, the words, and the tone of the story.  As I ventured into each and every page, I become completely absorbed in the story.  There were times when I started to speed up wanting to know what was going to happen, but then reminded myself to slow down and savor the story.  What a masterpiece this novel is.  To me it stands up there right along side The Underneath as two of my favorite middle-grade novels. 

Who Should Read It:  I know that this book will grace my "read aloud" shelf for the 2013-2014 school year.  I also know it will grab my students attention and ears, and pull them into Sugar Man Swamp.  To me, this would make a better read aloud than a self-selected book for my 4th graders.  I want to be able to discuss certain aspects of the story and make sure my listeners are grasping all the magical elements.  If a student does read this book on their own, I think that reader should definitely be in fifth or sixth grade (or beyond).  Happy Reading! 

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