The very best children’s books have such a unique charm that they either hold a nostalgic quality that adults take with them as they grow older, or they have enough magic to win them over when they are already grown up. After reading that Blue Dust author, Katy Krump was gearing up to release a novel for children, I had to know more. Released in November by Ghostly Publishing, Drippy Face is an adventure romp aimed at a much younger audience to those who enjoy her science fiction novels … but that didn’t stop me from snapping it up upon its paperback release.
Poor Pete is made of bog, which in all intents and purposes, is not a very good thing – especially when he lives underground surrounded by semi-precious and precious rocks and stones, who are considered more important than he is. Although, despite his composition, Pete lives with his family in an area of ‘The Krust’ that is perhaps, a little above him. However, all this serves is constantly reminding him that he is surrounded by rocks his own age that are more valuable than he is. His sister in particular reminds him of this every single day. For Gilda is a Precious; a golden vein that runs down her face, and being precious means that she simply can’t be seen lingering with boggy Pete.
But Pete doesn’t realise that his fortune is about to get even worse. Gilda goes and gets herself ‘collected’ by human harvesters who intend on trading her for Joolry. Pete is torn between doing the right thing and letting his evil, mean-spirited sister get what she deserves, and with the Lava Louts below threatening their very existence, Pete must make an impossible decision. And so Pete braves the world above on an exciting adventure into the unknown, for any Krusterati who ventures above the surface are never heard of again. Rescuing his sister comes to the forefront of his mission ‘Up Top’ – not that she’ll appreciate it.
Firstly, Drippy Face is an interesting concept. Stones and Rocks that are in fact ‘alive’ under the ground, just below our feet. It is exceptionally imaginative, think Toy Story meets The Gremlins, but for children. Quite simply put, it is completely and wholly original – original to the point that I’ve never heard of this concept before. And that is down to the sheer greatness of its author, who manages to bring to life, a complete hive-live network of beings down in the ground. Every sort of rock imaginable – even Pete’s brother is made of sand, which in itself creates great scenes later on in the book.
But Drippy Face is about Pete – a rather unlikely hero indeed! Pete in the beginning comes across a little selfish. He’s sick and tired of being treated lower than everybody else, he wants to do what he wants, not looking after his bratty sister. But when the drilling from ‘Up Top’ becomes more and more frequent, Pete must learn to mature, accept the way the world works, but prove that he is capable of so much more than his boggy self portrays. So along with a group of his closest friends, Pete sets off into the unknown to rescue his sister, knowing that he is sure to enter unthinkable dangers ahead.
It’s a coming of age story, a story of the underdog overcoming the odds to rescue his sister, which is absolutely perfect for children. Especially with the cartoon-like front cover, which automatically gives the readers an impression of what Pete is like. This is extremely important for when the action kicks off, allowing the children to really visualise Pete tackling a rapid waterfall, fighting eccentric Krazy Paving, as well as ‘manning up’ to enter the Furniss’ Lair. Even Pete’s mum is volcanic and could erupt when angered.
But as I already mentioned earlier, the best children’s stories always appeal to adults too. And I think it is Drippy Face’s darker, more scarier tones that will perhaps, slip over the younger audiences’ heads, but catch the adult attention. Harvesting rocks for our own vain purposes, as well draining the Earth of its natural resources for own will perhaps the two main ones. Katy Krump manages to hit a nerve with her account of Pete’s world, making you sit back and actually think about just how many diggers are out there now, ripping and drilling their way into the ground for gold, silver and oil deposits. Of course, the concept of those resources being alive is absolute fiction, but the seed of conscience has been planted.
But the word play and playful language will really delight any audience. Joolry, The News of the Underworld, Wot’jers, Karb, Solly Taire – just a few examples of the author’s playful mind. They are quite amusing when you first notice them, which adds an element of humor into a novel that tackles deep messages.
Among the actions, among the scaling stalagmites and such forth, it’s the deep themes that leave a lasting impression, long after you close the book. A message of appearance, a message of family love – accepting people (Krusterati) for who they are, not with how they look. That’s the real gem in this book. It teaches children to not conform to cliques and social pressures, but to look beyond the drippy face, the shiny gold vein and really get to know the person as a whole. And it is successful too!
If I had to pick a qualm with the book, it probably would be the older, more elevated language that many children may not quite understand. Perhaps more simpler synonyms would have been best, but saying that, children have to learn sometimes. A better vocabulary whilst reading something enjoyable may just be the answer.
Drippy Face is a delightful children’s adventure romp that has enough magic and inventiveness to attract any audience. The original concept, when mixed with its play on words and diverse characters is enjoyable and extremely readable. It’s dark, moralistic and important themes are what stays with you however, and for that, Drippy Face is a successful story. It has the right balance of action and wit that can appeal to both boys and girls, which is important, and it is vivid too. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wasn’t the last we’d see of boggy Pete. I particularly loved the two veteran characters who guard ‘The Dump’. Their stereotypical British personalities are charming and funny, but cleverly so. Give this a go, I’m certain you’ll find something to tickle your fancy.
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