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(Photo posted with parents' permission at our October 2013 Jeff Kinney Event!)

Set in the bayous of East Texas, this tells of the struggle to save an tiny unspoiled gem of wilderness and rural living fro two separate threats. In one plotline a boy named Chap helps his mom run a pie shop beloved by the locals for the exquisite pies made from sugarcane of the swamp surrounding them. He mourns his grandfather who imparted Chap all manner of lore. Now their way of life is threatened by one of those greedy cartoonish developers who often show up in this sort of story.

Unbeknownst to the humans, a pair of young raccoons are concerened by another attack on the swamp, in the form of a family of terrifing feral pigs crashing towards the famous sugarcane. these plucky little critters, Bingo and J'miah are the Information Scouts of the swamp. Their clever kin have served the swamp for untold generations watching for danger. When a crisis like this arises they must wake the Sugar Man, the legendary protector of the bayou-- part Bigfoot and part Paul Bunyan.


The folksy venacular will turn some readers away, it is laid on thick. Comparisons to Carl Hiaasen are inevitable. I fould that the denizens of Sugar Man Swamp also his the same sweet spots as Pogo and Margery Sharp's The Rescuers. There's a bluesy, rockin' rhythm and loads of humor, heart, and courage. Readers will be reminded that an ecosystem does include people as well as animals; that our history and family stories join with the turns of the seasons and the calls of unseen birds. --Reviewed by Chris of Compass Books, SFO Terminal 3

I know that this one has been out for awhile, but I finally picked it up off the shelf and I’m so glad I did! Did you know Jon Klassen illustrated it? Because he did and it’s adorable and I love it. If you’re unfamiliar with these books, they’re about three children who are mysteriously found in the woods by a wealthy (and very proper) couple. The children, having been raised by wolves, are unmanageable and incorrigible and therefore require the help of a governess. Thankfully, Miss Penelope Lumley knows just how to whip these children into shape. This is a touching story about friendship and compassion. Also, it’s quite funny! --Reviewed by Anna, Books Inc. Palo Alto

Oscar is an orphan. He was raised as the “hand” to a magician on an island where magic is all but lost to the people. Long ago, there were many wizards who used their magic to do extraordinary things. Now, few can use magic in the way that it is meant to be used. When something terrible happens to Wolf, the magician’s assistant, the magician must travel far across the country in hopes of discovering what really happened to Wolf. When the magician leaves, Oscar is left to care for the magician’s magic shop. However, Oscar is much more comfortable with plants and cats than he is with people. It isn’t until Callie, the healer’s assistant, comes to Oscar and helps him with his people skills. But when the city children begin falling ill and no one wants to know the truth, it’s up to Oscar and Callie to discover what’s really going on. This is one of my favorite books from last year and it’s perfect for those rapid fantasy lovers. Anyone who enjoyed Harry Potter or Narnia will devour this one! -- Reviewed by Anna from Books Inc. Palo Alto

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