Artie and the Grime Wave by Richard Roxburgh
Published by Allen & Unwin
This is a weird but delightful tale of the underdog becoming triumphant against all odds. Pre-teen boys, in particular, will enjoy the wild adventure and appreciate the humour in this fast-paced tale. With characters as colourful as Mary (a tough goon who can’t spell and accidentally tattooed Mary instead of Merry across his own face), Artie’s best friend Bumshoe (and his multitudes of siblings), Aunty-Boy (an elderly lady of strange and often disgusting habits and even stranger inventions such as the Fartex 120Y, the Super-Snotter, and the Prickalator), a creep called Funnel Web (who together with Artie accidentally invent the sport of the bungee wedgie), Mr Budgie (who wears a birdcage on his head) and the entire Grime family who think they run the world, this book is never dull.
There are quite a few serious issues that the book deals with including rampant bullying (and learning to fight back), and dealing with imperfect parents and siblings. Artie is feeling lost after his father dies and his mother sinks into a severe depression where she sleeps most of the day, and his older sister spends most of her time on her mobile phone and deals with her added responsibilities by screaming at Artie the rest of the time, but his irrepressible buddy Bumshoe helps him to feel less lonely.
His next door neighbours, “the Unpronouceable-enkos” help Artie to deal with some issues, often give him meals, and are on hand for the finale, along his Artie’s mother who is shaken out of her depression by the events that her son gets involved in. Artie has a crush on Gladys (one of the Unpronouceable-enkos) and in the search for her stolen pet tortoise, succeeds in discovering the horrendous secrets of the Grime family.
Artie is just an ordinary boy, one of the poorest in the neighbourhood who has to go to the charity shop to get new shoes when the bullies throw his only pair of shoes away. Is Artie bullied because he appears different, or is an easy target? You never really find out why Artie is bullied, but he does get his own back, (thanks to the Super-Snotter) in the end. Artie certainly develops some of his own strange habits as the lack of parental concern develops in his life. Artie doesn’t always shower, and experiments by creating some very unique meals that adults would find disgusting but young boys will think very cool. The happy ending stops these eating experiments, and Artie has to do things like shower every day again, but he really doesn’t mind. He is just glad to have his Mum back to her old self.
Artie is a great character that young boys will easily relate to. This chapter book has short chapters and uses relatively easy language, so it is ideal to give to any boy in primary school who enjoys reading adventures. Girls will also appreciate the humour and fun in the story.
The ink drawings by Richard Roxburgh are incredible, adding much detail to the story and making the story come to life. There are asides to the “dear reader” in handwriting font, lovely huge words of noises and interesting terms like a “shout-whisper” for the readers to unravel. The font is easy to read and with fun interjections to make the most of the story. While there is a dark side to this novel, the humour of the events and the unlikely but funny characters keep this book from being too heavy emotionally.
It’s a rollickingly good read with lots of plenty of juvenile jokes about farts, toilets, snot, and other things young boys will just have lots of fun reading.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author/Illustrator: Richard Roxburgh
Title: Artie and the Grime Wave
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: October 2016