Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Review - The Wump World

The Wump World
by Bill Peet
Date: 1970
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 48
Format: e-book
Source: Open Library

The Pollutians invade the Wump World and turn the green meadows into a concrete jungle.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I read a lot of Bill Peet books as a child. I know I did. But The Wump World is the only one I remember with any sort of clarity. It's a modern-day classic, just as important today as it was when it was published almost 50 years ago.

The Wumps are capybara-like creatures who live on a lush planet. They have no enemies, so they live a pretty idyllic life munching on grass and raising their families. Until... one day, a race of beings called the Pollutians arrives in their spaceships. The Wumps, understandably frightened, take shelter in an underground cave while the Pollutians begin to transform the planet to suit their own taste. They tear down the trees and tear up the grass, pave over everything, build skyscrapers, create a system of roads and freeways (and proceed to clog them with traffic), belch pollution into the sky, and dump waste into the rivers and lakes. Soon, the Pollutians are grumbling and grousing about the mess they've made, and rather than mend their ways, they simply find a new planet and abandon their mess. The Wumps emerge from their cave, find some untouched land, and resume their lives. The book ends on a hopeful but bittersweet note as the planet begins to heal itself from the Pollutians' assault.

There are so many warnings and messages one might take from this. I've seen some reviewers say that the message hits the reader over the head and isn't subtle enough. To that, I say, "So what?" It's almost 50 years later, and we still haven't gotten the message. Even worse, we're poised on the edge of the ability to travel to other worlds. Will we one day become the Pollutians, wrecking the planets of other creatures because we never bothered to learn respect for nature and lives other than our own?

This is a wonderful environmental-message book that's stood up well over the decades. Kids today might be more receptive to its message. More receptive than the older generations were, judging by how little things have changed when it comes to us making a mess of our home.

Quotable moment:

Premise: 5/5
Meter: n/a
Writing & Editing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 ladybugs

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