A National Book Award Nomination for College Station’s Kathi Appelt


It’s always nice to see Texas writers getting a little national love. College Station resident and young-adult author Kathi Appelt‘s latest novel, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, has been announced as one of five finalists for the 2013 Young People’s Literature National Book Award.

The novel, aimed at children 8-11, is a tale of two brother racoons, Bingo and J’miah, who work for the mysterious Sugar Man. The narration evokes story-time on grandpa’s porch with colorful exposition like, “just because the Sugar Man is old and sleepy doesn’t mean he can’t spin an alligator over his head and toss him into orbit.” Don’t resist the urge to read the story in a slow Texas drawl.

This isn’t Appelt’s first rodeo: Her last novel, The Underneath, was a 2008 National Book Award finalist as well as a Newbery Honor Book. Observer contributor Robert Leleux reviewed The Underneath in 2009, calling it an “elegant, sad-eyed novel” and “a prose poem to the woodlands of East Texas.”

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp trades those piney-wood forests for swamps, but Appelt’s imaginative lyricism continues to find a fertile home wherever she lets it take root. Texas-size congrats to Kathi Appelt.

And congrats as well to Austin’s Lawrence Wright, whose Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief is nominated for a National Book Award in the nonfiction category. Leleux reviewed that title for us as well, so let’s give Robert a shout-out for good taste in topics.