Book Review: Secrets of the Swamp by Neil Humphreys, Illustrated by Cheng Puay Koon

Trapped a dolphin 1Award winning author Neil Humphreys and popular illustrator Cheng Puay Koon have co-created an engaging and visually stunning story for primary school kids in Secrets of the Swamps, a book commissioned by National Parks to commemorate 50 years of greening for Singapore.

The story trails three brothers who veer off from their hunt for horseshoe crabs for a school assignment at the mangroves. In an exhilarating adventure, they traverse an amazing dream forest where “everything blossomed and flourished” beautifully, trespass a “haunted” house occupied by a short strange man, and slip into a “black hole” into a perfect “fun” underground world, devoid of noise or mess!

Dads can use the story as a multi-faceted platform to:-

  • Share with children the spirit of siblinghood and how the brothers – each with a different personality – relate with one another in “trying” times.
  • Highlight how Alfie, the eldest, constantly watches out for his brothers’ well-being and safety, tries to lead and act responsibly.
  • Discuss the wonderful powers of imagination, kids’ thirst for adventure, curiosity and propensity to push boundaries. Here, the “risk-taker” combats his fear of the unknown – by climbing onto a gigantic measles-infected “corpse flower”!
  • Debate the pros and cons of living in a “natural/organic” or “artificial/sanitised” environment with processed food.
  • Spot featured wild flora and fauna (pitcher plant, hornbill, mudskipper) and familiarise kids with elements of Singapore’s native biodiversity.
  • Plan a family outing to the 8 parks and reserves featured in the pull-out map!

A thoroughly creative and entertaining adventure read. Kudos to NParks for the innovative production!

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Categories: Books & Zines

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