Artie and the Grime Wave
Allen & Unwin 2016
240pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
When bully Nate Grime and his sidekick Wart throw Artie’s only pair of shoes over the overhead wires, they start off a chain of events that not only brings down the Mayor of the town but also provides for a hair-raising crazy adventure that will appeal to boys in those mid-late primary years.
Artie only has one pair of shoes because after his dad, a trapeze artist, died a few years previously, his mother has been so deep on grief that she has confined herself to the couch all but abandoning Artie and his angry older sister, Lola. His best mate Bumshoe – (real name Alex Baumschule) suggests that they find paperbark trees to make new shoes from so Artie not only avoids his mother’s anger but can also go to school. It is while they are searching for the trees that they discover a cave full of possibly-stolen-stuff and its sinister guardians Mary, Funnel Web and Mr Budgie.
Populated with a number of eccentric characters who all become part of Artie and Bumshoe’s attempts to get the truth out as they search for Gladys Unpronounceable-enko’s tortoise Gareth which has disappeared and desperately avoid the clutches of the ruthless gang, Roxburgh has written and illustrated a rambunctious romp that pits the skinny, awkward kid and his overweight mate against bullies, mean teachers and desperate gangsters that many readers will put themselves in the hero’s shoes. In fact Roxburgh says, “”My oldest boy started to hit an age where I was conscious I was finding the books I was reading him as entertaining and amusing as he was,” … ”I thought I could write to that world, I could locate myself in that neck of woods and deal with that immature adventurous sense of play.
Because of his public profile, Roxburgh and his book received a lot of publicity when it was released in October 2016 and I was keen to see if the writing actually lived up to the hype. Pleased to record that it kept me reading to the end and that I could ‘see’ young boys particularly enjoying it and recommending it to their peers. A great start to the 2017 reading seasons.