King of the Swamp

King of the Swamp
Catherine Emmett and Ben Mantle
Simon & Schuster

In a dark dank swamp living peacefully alone and growing orchids in his neat garden, is McDarkly.

One day, this peaceful existence is shattered by a royal entourage led by a roller skating enthusiast King who wants to turn the swamp into a roller-skate park.

However at McDarkly’s mention of orchids the Princess’s ears prick up and an agreement is made that the royal party will give the orchid cultivator just ten days for his orchids to bloom so that the princess can learn from these wonderful plants.

Determined to save his swampy environment from the King’s destructive clutches, McDarkly labours night and day, and as his allocated time is about to end, he comes upon a small green grub on one of the leaves.

Disaster! But all the more so when the one proves to be a great many of the wrigglers and they devour his precious flowers overnight.

Back come the royals, with the King in high spirits when he discovers the lack of orchid flowers. Once again though, it’s down to the Princess to save the day …

Delectably silly, Catherine Emmett’s rhyming tale is an exceedingly clever and enormously enjoyable way of putting across an environmental message or two so that young audiences will be both greatly amused and one hopes, ready to get behind the conservation crusade that still needs lots more activists.

Ben Mantle’s comical scenes are rich in detail – daft and otherwise. Who can fail to giggle over the sight of McDarkly sitting atop a bush outside his home sipping tea from a china cup, or that of the creature singing to his plants.