Sunday, January 22, 2006

Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen

Keehn, Sally M. 2005. GNAT STOKES AND THE FOGGY BOTTOM SWAMP QUEEN. New York: Philomel. ISBN 0399242872 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

Seven years ago, when Gnat Stokes was only five years old, Goodlow Pryce was kidnapped by the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen. Now, Gnat has found a message from Goodlow intended for his beloved and has made the decision to save him. “Instead of folks whispering among themselves, ‘That Gnat Stokes! She’s nothing but a no-good misbegotten child, born to raise trouble,’ they’ll be saying, ‘Gnat Stokes? She’s our hero.’” With the help of her three best friends and a cat who wonders out of the Foggy Bottom Swamp carrying a necklace from Goodlow, Gnat sets out to save the boy she has come to love. The journey, however, is not an easy one as Gnat battles swamp monsters, learns who her mother really is, and discovers what true love means.

Set in the Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee, GNAT STOKES is based on the famous Scottish folk ballad “Tam Lin.” Keehn has chosen to use a feisty, high-spirited 12-year-old girl as the hero in her retelling. Gnat, who loves her Gnat name, tells the story in her mountain-tinged voice; and readers will enjoy her straightforward attitude and blunt manner. A fantasy tale mixed with adventure and humor will surely entertain and intrigue young readers.

With Gnat’s colorful voice and tone, the book would make a great read aloud. Take turns reading the story out loud or assign characters and have children perform the story. Encourage participants to use accents and enthusiasm while reading their parts.

Other books by Sally M. Keehn:
I AM REGINA. ISBN 0440407540

Other books based on the “Tam Lin” ballad:
Cooper, Susan. TAM LIN. ISBN 0689505051
Yolen, Jane. TAM LIN. ISBN 015201697X

By Mary D. Buckalo

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