Orphans Chippo and his little sister, Gentle, survive by sorting through rubbish on Papa Fudu's tip, looking for things of value. Having a cleft palate makes Gentle vulnerable to bullying and she hides her face behind a cloth, dreaming of going to 'Happy Split-face Land' where her face will be mended. To save for this, she washes plastic bags, being paid a penny for every hundred.
When Chippo spots an old TV buried in the rubbish, he concocts a plan to take it without handing it over to Papa Fudu- with disastrous consequences. The children have to flee the only home they know and create a new life for themselves.
Rubbish Town Hero is skillfully written.The reader sees the bravery, resiliance and loyalty of children living in appalling conditions, facing overwhelming odds, yet this is primarily an exciting adventure story. Nicola Davies doesn't preach about the fate of children like these; she exposes the reader to the horror of their situation as a backdrop to her story.
Chippo and Grace are very engaging characters and the reader is cheering them on from the first page. The author has managed to find a balance between exposing the hardships of the thousands of children worldwide that Chippo and Grace represent and allowing them a happy ending, full of hope, where they have improvised a new family and forged a new life for themselves.
With plenty of opportunities for discussions about poverty, child labour, war and the environment, Rubbish Town Hero also celebrates family- in all its forms- and how happiness can be found without the materialistic values held by many.
Rubbish Town Hero by Nicola Davies
Corgi Children's ISBN: 978-0552563024