The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems From Beyond the Solar System
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The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems From Beyond the Solar System

by Jack Prelutsky, Jimmy Pickering
     
 

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Jack Prelutsky’s exploration of outer space is not for the faint of heart. No friendly little E.T.–type aliens await your arrival. There are many imaginative ways to perish in these darkly comedic cautionary verses about unexplored worlds so far beyond our solar system. The final poem is an environmental tour de force that packs a wallop. Here are poems

Overview

Jack Prelutsky’s exploration of outer space is not for the faint of heart. No friendly little E.T.–type aliens await your arrival. There are many imaginative ways to perish in these darkly comedic cautionary verses about unexplored worlds so far beyond our solar system. The final poem is an environmental tour de force that packs a wallop. Here are poems the older reader will find great fun to memorize and rattle off to anyone who will listen! And there is a special bonus: anagrams for the kid who loves word puzzles.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The nation's first children's poet laureate fills a galaxy with weird, scary planets: his 19 poems describe places and creatures you wouldn't want to visit. On planet "Lonithor," for example, "demon birds... eviscerate their prey./ And when they've disemboweled you,/ They'll pick apart your face"; on "Ogdofod" the monopods "will snare you in their nets,/ Then process you and package you/ To feed their hungry pets." Pickering's (Skelly the Skeleton Girl ) amusing illustrations suggest images for a Tim Burton movie. A tourist on "Drifig Prime" resembles a frozen Corpse Bride and someone who stumbles on Planet Grob looks a lot like Edward Scissorhands. Less broad in its appeal than most of Prelutsky's previous titles, this over-the-top intergalactic odyssey will mostly please kids capable of relishing horror and its send-ups ("You laugh till you wish / You'd expire of laughter, / And in that same second, / you mercifully do"). For added fun, about half of the planet names are anagrams; a key is listed at the end. Ages 8-up. (Mar.)

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Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
Children's Poet Laureate, Prelutsky has again produced a collection sure to be a hit with boys and girls. Over the years, many volumes of his poems have introduced youngsters to the delights of poetry. The sense of fun and silliness is always perfectly attuned to children's sense of humor. This latest collection continues this tradition by describing the world of outer space. Here are planets with intriguing names, characteristics, and creatures. On Lonithor are huge birds with fourteen wings, who are always hungry and eat whatever they capture. Landing on Grob will result in total transformation from a human being into a robot that has "a laser-guided cannon where your belly used to be." Planet Wolvar Sprod is home to beings called globulings who "endlessly revolve you..... they'll dissolve you." The illustrations are boldly colored and a perfect match for the text. They look much like a Tim Burton movie and are sure to appeal to kids. As an extra bonus, some of the planet names that are starred contain an anagram that portrays a characteristic of the planet. Answers are provided at the end of the book. By all means, add this book to the poetry section. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Nineteen poems with jaunty rhythms lure readers to some very menacing planets. Almost all tell of the horrors to be found in worlds beyond our solar system: "The cooks of Gazook/Will reduce you to powder,/And use you to flavor/Their savory chowder." The bugs of Gum simply eat visitors alive. Planet Swole envelopes guests in despair, while Skreber kills them with laughter. The last poem shows alien explorers visiting an unfortunate planet where the inhabitants cause each other harm and suffer terribly. The final page turn reveals this planet to be one that readers know all too well-and call home. Dark colors with sharp contrasts help define these worlds in mixed-media illustrations. Some of the unusual planet names are anagrams to solve with answers in the back of the book. Science-fiction and poetry lovers should unite over this slim and entertaining volume.-Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA

Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375846748
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
03/10/2009
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
1,234,778
Product dimensions:
7.42(w) x 9.18(h) x 0.36(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Jack Prelutsky was named our nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate in 2006. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

Jimmy Pickering’s deliciously scary illustrations have appeared in several picture books, and his art has enhanced the covers of all of Debi Gliori’s Pure Dead series. He lives in Astoria, Oregon.

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