By Author / Illustrator
Catherine Emmett, Ben Mantle
Simon & Schuster Ltd
Paperback / softback
From a brand-new picture book duo, this is a striking and unique story perfect for little people interested in climate awareness and looking after nature.
McDarkly lives quietly all on his own, growing orchids in his dank swamp, until one day his peace is disturbed by an arrogant king who wants to turn the swamp into a roller-skate park. McDarkly has ten days to prove that the swamp isn't damp and dark, but an enchanted world. Can he do it, or will he risk losing his home forever?
McDarkly lives quietly all on his own, growing orchids in his dark swamp, until one day his peace is disturbed by an arrogant king who wants to turn his swamp into a brand new roller-skate park. McDarkly has the challenge of proving that the swamp isn't dark, damp and disgusting but actually a place of natural beauty.
Catherine Emmett has created a striking and unique debut picture book, perfect for little people interested in climate awareness and looking after the natural world. She has used rhyme to engage the reader throughout this tale and due to this, the story flows effortlessly from page to page. The language itself is accessible to all readers and even allowed me to introduce some new vocabulary to my class of year 1 children. They proved to be the perfect audience for the book as they were engrossed fully in the story, making predictions throughout and even making connections to other stories and tales they had heard.
On first impression, you may assume that the creature on the front of the cover may be the "baddie" of the story but thanks to Catherine's words, you soon come to emphasize and connect with him. You want him to succeed in his challenge and feel genuine sorrow for him when he encounters a problem.
As well as wonderful words by Catherine, the book is accompanied by some truly magnificent illustrations by Ben Mantle. He has created a backdrop that supports the words and enhance the read tremendously; the transformation of the swamp from the beginning of the story to the end is beautiful and by the end, it really feels like an enchanted world of wonder.
This is a wonderful text and I would happily recommend it to other primary settings, especially with its great links to science and PHSE objectives around caring for our planet.
Picture book / Ages 4+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 5+