I think since we came out of lockdown there have been some of us who, more than ever, appreciate the untouched lovely countryside and other outdoor spaces that we couldn’t enjoy as freely, and some people who have not shown such appreciation, they visited and littered and abused our beautiful places. It’s incredibly sad. King of the Swamp written by Catherine Emmett, illustrated by Ben Mantle and published by Simon & Schuster is the perfect antidote to the abusers of nature! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour.
McDarkly (what a wonderful name) is a swamp monster who loves flowers and dreams of transforming his unnasuming muddy swamp into a beautiful, bright, floral place. He gets to work growing and nurturing his surroundings to make them nicer, until the King arrives with plans to pave over the “horrible” swamp to make way for a roller skate park! Thankfully his daughter the intrepid princess is much more keen on saving the natural environment, and helps McDarkly show the King the true beauty in his surroundings.
Catherine Emmet has stormed into the picture book with her debut title! This is a fabulous substantial read of a rhyming picture book which tells a great story. It contains a whole host of characters including a smart and plucky princess and a gentle natured monster, which buck the usual stereotypes. The rhyme reads out loud really well, flowing easily and giving that extra dimension. I, like many, will always love a well done rhyming story!
The real beauty in this story is how the appreciation of nature shines through, because it’s something we must always always remember, and it’s such an important message to give to children. Plastic bottles, crisp bags, wet wipes all go to destroy the places we adore, and however un appealing a place may seem, it is a habitat for so much life and beauty! McDarkly may live in a dark dank swamp, but this swamp grew flowers and then gave food for creatures and was in reality and by the end of this lovely story the most beautiful place. It’s such a well paced clever story suitable for a huge age range, and along with the important messages within, is also just bags of fun and hugely entertaining a read!
Ben Mantle is a wonderful and always popular illustrator, and King of the Swamp is another winner from him. He’s taken Catherine’s lovely characters and given them visual personalities that fit so perfectly with her words. The monster is what we’d expect from a monster living in a swamp, yet he has a sweet kind face with a gentleness in his eyes. The princess is as far and away from the pretty in pink we are used to seeing in picture books.
I love the variations in each page spread, from zoomed in shots of McDarkly’s funny face, to wide angles of the swamp, and the final, butterfly filled spread is an unexpected, beautiful, bright and colour filled joy. Absolutely glorious. Ben makes this dank swamp look anything but, enabling the reader to see beyond the King’s short sighted perceptions of the area.
This is a book so worth having on your bookshelves. It would be brilliant for class story times as there’s so much to discuss here from an educational point of view, but it’s also fun and lovely a story. I mean honestly, look at that spread above and tell me you’re not tempted!!
King of the Swamp is out now from all good bookshops and libraries (please support your local indie book shop).
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of the book and thank you for reading this swampy Book Monster Review.