The Swampees Freeze Up! ¦ The Rarest Egg ¦ Double Cross! ¦ In Trouble!
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Our cover illustration is taken from Wake Up, Bear ... It's Christmas, Stephen Gammell, Heinemann, 0 434 94010 0, £3.95. We are most grateful to Heinemann for help in using this picture. We are also indebted to Raymond Briggs and Hamish Hamilton for the cover of Extra.
The Swampees live far away in a valley where life has remained unchanged for fifty millions years. These four story picture books tell of Ella the Elasmosaurus. P. T. the Pterandodon, Rex the Tyrannosaurus, et al. Lots of daredevil action, largely concerned with outwitting Dr Croc from Crocodile Swamp. The appeal of prehistory is assured and I like the idea of combining the characters, rich for comic exploitation, with the use of space-age techniques.
The illustrator pulls out every trick in the book and the 8-year-olds I shared Freeze UP! with enjoyed the use of TV narrative, cartoon strip format, speech bubbles, etc. The storylines don't always reach the gripping standard of the pictures and my guess is that the appeal will be transitory. Try one or two copies in the bookshop, if only to show the various ways of telling stories and to help children build up their judgments about the 'novelty' book.