Down in the Dumps (series)
96pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99
Down in the Westerfield Dump amongst all the rubbish discarded by the local community live Nana the dried up banana, Ms Kettle the teapot and Moreland, the crusty blob of goo. And they are the best of friends. Not for them the familiar meaning of being “down in the dumps” – they are very happy to be who they are, where they are, doing what they do.
This is a new series for young readers who are just beginning to transition from structured basal readers to the world of novels. Almost like a graphic novel, they are specifically written for this cohort with minimal narration (clearly set in text boxes) and the action is carried in the illustrations and speech-bubble conversations. Chapters are short and fast-paced and at the end of each, readers are given direct encouragement to keep reading.
Despite a landfill area being an unlikely setting and the characters being somewhat different to what we expect, nevertheless they are very relatable with the common themes of friendship, acceptance, loyalty and fighting for what’s right (even if you’re trash) as they face issues that will spark consideration and conversation with suggestions for thinking, feeling and acting offered in the “super Stinky Games” section.
Years ago, writers like Paul Jennings, Christopher Milne, Morris Gleitzman and Andy Griffiths tapped into the young readers’ love for characters and plots that would make adults blush or cringe, and this does a similar thing. There’s something appealing about that which doesn’t appeal to grown ups, and with four in this series planned, at least, this is one for even the most reluctant reader.