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THE SWAMPS OF SLEETHE by Jack Prelutsky

THE SWAMPS OF SLEETHE

Poems from Beyond the Solar System

By Jack Prelutsky (Author) , Jimmy Pickering (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: March 10th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-84674-8
Publisher: Knopf

The planets circling distant suns should definitely be avoided, according to these cautionary verses and eerie illustrations. Young space travelers who don’t leave their bones behind in the “foul and festering broth” of the titular swamps will freeze and shatter on Drifig Prime, be devoured happily by “The Demon Birds of Lonithor” (“And when they’ve disemboweled you, / they’ll pick apart your face… / Don’t ever visit Lonithor / When you’re in outer space”) or find themselves exploding, dissolving away or transformed into trees or metal robots elsewhere. Pickering’s full-bleed pictures depict few of these bad ends explicitly, but do offer dimly lit scenes of distressed-looking young humans amid exotic flora and fauna. For would-be explorers who might be entertaining thoughts of staying at home, though, the collection closes with a portrait of our own planet as such a scene of “carnage, chaos, callousness, / Brutality and greed” that a set of visiting aliens themselves zoom off in haste. Taken individually the poems are pleasantly ghoulish—but all in all, this is Prelutsky in an uncharacteristically dark vein. (Picture book/poetry. 8-11)