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Lu and the Swamp Ghost    by James Carville, Patricia C. McKissack & David Catrow order for
Lu and the Swamp Ghost
by James Carville
Order:  USA  Can
Atheneum, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

James Carville includes a note at the beginning of Lu and the Swamp Ghost, telling us that his mother Lucille 'grew up in rural Louisiana during the Great Depression, and ... was strong and adventuresome' just like Lu in his story. The book comes with a CD, in which the author reads the tale aloud, with expression, in his soft southern accent.

Lu, who is 'as curious as a Louisiana judge', asks her mother if they are poor. When Mama answers 'You're never poor if you have a loving family and one good friend', Lu decides her lack of the latter makes her 'just a little poor'. She accompanies her Papa into the swamp to 'check his turkey traps'. There she meets a smelly something 'covered in mud from head to toe.' Could it be the 'swamp ghost' her cousins frightened her with?

Lu persuades the creature to accept pork chops instead of her skinny self. When she brings a basket of lunch leftovers, it gobbles them up 'faster than a hog slurps down slop.' She keeps on bringing food, and offers the ghost a houseboat hiding place. Can you guess where this is going? I bet you can. Lu and the Swamp Ghost is a sweet story, enhanced by David Catrow's busy illustrations, whose exaggerations tickle the funny bone right to the last page.

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