I admit I lied, but it wasn’t my fault. Ellen Ruffin made me do it. I said in public on Facebook and elsewhere a number of times that I wasn’t going to read Kathi Appelt’s book The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp until she comes to the Fay B. Kaigler Book Festival next year. My plan was to buy the book and get it signed at their book signing.
Then Ellen picked it for our de Grummond Book Group to read and discuss. What was I to do? My choices were limited.
• I could skip a meeting. TOO painful.
• I could go to the meeting without reading the book which would mean I couldn’t enter into the conversation. WAY too painful.
• I could go back on my word, buy the book now, and read it. Only painful to the degree that my conscience bothered me. NOT painful at all.
Kathi Appelt gives reason, thought, and courage to the true blue scout raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah, and life to the legendary Sugar Man who rules the swamp and loves sugar cane. The human boy, Chap Brayburn, knows how to sing the canebrake lullaby and cook sugar pies worth a trip out into the swamp if people only knew they were there. Trouble comes double. Wicked feral hogs head toward the swamp and developers plot to take the land. The reader, to whom the author speaks in a Jane Eyre manner, hangs onto her seat with the hogs getting nearer and nearer as the raccoons rush to find the Sugar Man, and all the time it looks like Chap will lose his Paradise Pies Café to the developers.
One would think the neat wrap-up at the end would let this reader relax, but there are two other questions. Now that I have my book in hand and will not be buying it at the book store, will there be an opportunity to get it signed on the sly? I’m holding Ellen responsible for working this out.
The other question comes from following mock Newbery Award lists where librarians and other children’s book people try to guess who’s winning this year. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp keeps turning up on those lists. I’m hanging onto my seat and crossing my fingers for this one. I’ll be sitting near my computer for news when the American Library Association makes its choices on January 27, 2014.
I will add that this is not the first time Ellen has conned me into something. So far, all her enticements have been fun. The next time she leads me into temptation, I’ll just go ahead and yield.