Krindlekrax ISBN: 9780099979203
Published by Red Fox, 1992
Fantasy and realism, humour and serious intent mixed intriguingly. Ruskin desperately wants to be the hero in the school play, but he is skinny, with knobbly knees, frizzy red hair, and thick glasses. His ex-chum Elvis, who has grown very big and wears an American football outfit, is chosen to fight the dragon instead. As he also bullies Ruskin and spends most of his time breaking windows with his football, this is not a happy choice. Both boys live on Lizard Street with a peculiar assortment of neighbours, one of whom is Corky, the school caretaker, and Ruskin's special friend. It is Corky who tells Ruskin about the huge alligator Krindlekrax, who lives in the sewers under Lizard Street. When Corky dies suddenly of a heart attack, Ruskin believes that it is Krindlekrax who has killed him, and he sets out to rid the neighbourhood of the monster. There follows an eerie scene in the sewer that may or may not be a dream - the whole story is so dream-like that this hardly matters. Ruskin vanquishes Krindlekrax and saves Elvis; but he becomes the true hero when he must step in at the last moment to play Elvis' part in the school play. The book has so many important messages - bullying, death, forgiveness, acceptance of people as they are - that it might be thought to be overloaded. But it isn't. All this is handled with a deft touch, and it is a cracking good read.