Eleven-year-old Elsie Mae lives for her summers spent with her grandparents on Honey Island in the Okefenokee Swamp—so when the swamp is threatened by a developer, she decides to do something to save the most beautiful place on Earth.
The canal project is only part of the drama in this Depression-era tale. A hog thief, a Bible-thumping cousin, and a dog that cannot seem to stay out of trouble all conspire to make this the most exciting and problem-filled summer ever. But Elsie Mae is so focused on making a name for herself that she neglects to consider how her actions will affect those around her. She seems to create more problems than she solves. Is this the fall her cousin warned would follow her pride? Or are the complications really just blessings in disguise? Gators, huckleberry pie, and sweet tea on the porch are all part of the swamper way of life. Elsie Mae is spunky, headstrong, and kind, but she also has moments of jealousy and recklessness. The mystery surrounding the hog thefts falls flat, but the distinctive setting, the intriguing characters, and the glimpse at a culture that is unfamiliar to most are enough to carry it through. Elsie Mae narrates, and characters’ dialogue is rendered in a broad dialect. Absence of racial markers implies that they are white. A historical note explains the actual events surrounding the Georgia swamp’s protection.
Swamp magic. (Historical fiction. 9-12)