Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



The Swamps of Sleethe

The Swamps of Sleethe

Spring 2009 Poetry
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Jack Prelutsky
Illustrator: Jimmy Pickering
ISBN: 978-0-375-84674-8
Hardcover Price: $16.99
Review:
Both officially and unofficially, Jack Prelutsky is well known as the children’s Poet Laureate, and for good reason. Prelutsky specializes in whimsical poetry that appeals to kids of all ages, covering wacky subjects such as raining pigs and noodles, growing umbrellaplants, and dealing with a genius dog. However his latest book, The Swamps of Sleethe, takes a somewhat ghoulish approach to his material. The collection focuses on a series of alien planets from outside our solar system—planets that, it’s safe to say, aren’t on any NASA timetables. For example, one poem describes a “chill and nameless planet / Where no wind has ever blown,” home to a “Beholder in the Silence” who “Waits immobile, hushed and grim.” The text’s elevated vocabulary exposes children to words like “insatiable,” “disemboweled,” “malignant,” and “torturous,” making this a better choice for older children who are both less likely to be frightened by the macabre humor and more likely to understand the language. Jimmy Pickering’s mixed-media illustrations play up the funny side of Prelutsky’s tales, adding vivid colors and softening the fear factor with decidedly comical monsters.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.


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