Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 25283
date submitted 21.08.2009
date updated 13.09.2010
genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Children's, Young...
classification: universal

A Load of Rubbish - Seamus and The Rats Revenge

Helena Duggan

Credit limits, the Triple R Treaty, Adam and his army. Seamus's dump dream is disintegrating and now he needs to stand and fight.


Seamus is an ordinary shoe whose love of adventure lands him in a whole heap of trouble! Thrown from a truck into a world of rubbish he never knew existed he must find his feet in this larger than life wasteland.

Lost, shy and regretting he ever walked out on his brother Charlie, he must come to terms with his uselessness and gradually learn the rules that govern dump life. Through friends and mentors he gains along the way he picks up snippets about his unfamiliar surroundings and begins to settle in this topsy-turvy world of rubbish.

It is just as he starts to enjoy dump life, and aspires to be ‘Recycled’ and made useful again that things begin to go askew. With the aid of KP, a beautiful and courageous newspaper, he unveils a dirty truth. The dump dream begins to disintegrate as he discovers a plot that not only affects his friends but the whole dump and the animal and human worlds beyond.

Seamus is an ordinary shoe but it is going to take an extraordinary courage to fight for his friends and stand up for the dump he now calls home.

rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login



adventure, funny, imaginative, rubbish, shoe

on 178 watchlists



To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
HarperCollins Wrote

Here’s a story for adventurous imaginations to immerse themselves in.

Seamus is no ordinary hero – he’s a shoe. And he’s seen plenty of action in his lifetime, even if he isn’t as flashy as Charlie, who’s an ‘outgoing shoe’, who everybody loves, and who’s capable of chatting up ‘a lovely pair of high heels’.

Seamus’ latest adventure begins when he inadvertently gets locked outside the house one rainy day. As the door says, ‘once outside, you’ll never get back inside’, and Seamus is scooped up by the local garbage truck to begin a new life in the big (grimy) city. It’s a strange and sometimes terrifying new world, ruled by two playing cards, and run by the super efficient rats who organise the biggest game in town – recycling.

There he meets a number of interesting characters, such as The (Bread) Bin, who seems to be operating a licensed bar in his depths, Velvet, a bottle who pours water from her depths and Tess, literally a walking thesaurus.

This book is heavily reliant on visual gags and requires the reader to take a leap of imagination often only seen in animated films. Think ‘A Shoe’s Life’ with Raymond Chandler noir-ish over tones. There are plenty of ways in which a clever animator could really make this work well on screen. The scene where B&B signs (rather than their owners) go touting for business is made for visuals.

The author has clearly given attention to the way his characters might think and feel – Seamus aches in his seams and threads, he’s been abused by his owner – a boy who walks on the sides of his feet, which isn’t comfortable. Cassie, the dictionary and thesaurus uses words to underline her person, such as when she’s telling Seamus to hurry up. ‘Time is of the essence, nature, odour, perfume…’ Sam, the mobile phone, speaks in text language.

Social comment is often made through the interactions of the characters – Seamus is in such a sad way that Nelson thinks he may have fallen off a homeless person’s foot. But he’s young, so there’s still some life and worth in him – he’s a good candidate for recycling. There’s a pecking order in the rubbish dump, too – breeders (anything organic form fruit and vegetables to dogs) are seen as less permanent, and therefore less valuable to the ‘manufactured’ garbage. There’s a hierarchy of admission tickets. These little snobberies and bureaucracies are a source of gentle ridicule, which still has plenty to say about our own world.

There is also comment on recycling/environmental issues as a whole, demonstrated by the system used in this society.

The narrative style is fluent, playful with language at times, yet not too elaborate for the story it’s telling. There is a refreshing absence of cliché except when it’s deliberately employed to further the reader’s understanding of a character or situation. I felt, too, that the restrained use of dialect was a plus – it’s all too easy to over use dialogue to underline a character trait, to the point where it’s dangerously close to parody.

All in all, there’s plenty to think about for readers who are ready to talk a walk on the slightly absurdist side. A minor note to finish – I’m not quite sure the title does the story justice, and may be a little off-putting. There are many other titles that refer to shoes or rubbish that don’t have the same connotation.

PCreturned wrote 1087 days ago

Ah I remember reading and backing this. Misleading title. This is definitely not a load of rubbish. ;)

Your story's so imaginative and weird (in a good way ;)). I never would have imagined reading about a shoe could be so much fun. I'd happily back this again if you hadn't already made the desk. This is a book with real sole. ;)

Pete x

oldlady16 wrote 1270 days ago

oh please can you tell me how to save your book because yesterday i hit the button and it saved for later but today i hit the button and i got to the homepage. maybe your buttons are broken. or email me more chapters to my aunt its like her username oldlady16 and its at

oldlady16 wrote 1270 days ago

your writing is funny, this would be a good gift for my brother. he likes too read my whole family does ever since we were little. thanks for making this free to read and ill save to read more later.

Eunice Attwood wrote 1302 days ago

Oh my God - this is fantastic! What an original concept you have developed here. This is quirky and a lot of fun. I can see you already have the coveted star, but I want you on my shelf immediately. Eunice - The Temple Dancer.

scro1461 wrote 1373 days ago

This is really good. It is not your usual stuff. Rather it is something different. I really like it.

It is to good not to back it.

scro1461 wrote 1373 days ago

This is really good. It is not your usual stuff. Rather it is something different. I really like it.

It is to good not to bag

Katriel1985 wrote 1421 days ago

I absolutely loved this book!! It is so well written and so fun! You have done an excellent job personalizing our trash and your characters are so well written. It feels like they are about to jump off the page and I now have a new appreciation for my shoes, my pens and my poor paper. :-)

Loved it and backed it happily…

The Prince and The Sorcerer

Warren Bishop wrote 1430 days ago

very enjoyable,with a light hearted style that draws you in.

Nabahood23 wrote 1452 days ago

This is a very interesting plot. The ideal to make the main characters footwear and write a story around them and their adventures was a great undertaking. It is a job well done. The story is interesting and the characters delightful and likeable. Keep up the good work.

D. L. Stroupe wrote 1460 days ago

No wonder you have a star! What a delight. I guess you don't need backing anymore, but I've backed you anyway. A truly fun read, so thank you for a wonderful time.

NmonicTom wrote 1463 days ago

Thank you for your backing and, as many others have already said, well done for having your book selected for a HC review. I will watch with interest to see if they find it as good as the preceeding 813 'commentees' below!

Best wishes, Mark Ashley

StaKC wrote 1479 days ago

Interesting, Animal Farm for rubbish. Nicely done.

David Coe wrote 1480 days ago


Read the first few chapters and loved them. Such an original style. I don't know if you still need the backing but I'm backing it anyway.

Had to read it when I saw you were from Kilkenny. Many moons ago my great granma and grandad eloped from there and took the ferry over to England. They ended up in Leeds which cant have been so nearly as pretty as Kilkenny, but they stayed. I could never find out why they eloped and married in England, there must be a story there somewhere.

Good luck with the editors desk thing


Gail_M wrote 1480 days ago

Wow! What a unique idea, and so wonderfully done! I never would have believed that I'd enjoy reading the story of a shoe, but your style makes it such a page turner. Backed with pleasure :)
"New Beginnings"

Bamboo Promise wrote 1483 days ago

My second congratulation on making the ED.

Sandra Hamer wrote 1484 days ago

Congratulations on making the editor's desk!


Cheryl Kaye Tardif wrote 1484 days ago

Congratulations on having your novel selected to be read by HarperCollins. I wish you the best in success.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
author of Children of the Fog and Lancelot's Lady

WG71 wrote 1484 days ago

a great prospective. You never think of one shoe by itself. Easy read.

JoeDPalermo wrote 1485 days ago


As soon as I started reading your book, I realized that I had already read it. I checked, and found that I sent you the following messahe 41 days ago. i will back it again.

Marveously creative! I really enjoyed reading this. Older children would love it, especially with cartoon type graphics. Sam's dialogue in Chapter 18 is difficult to read, however.

Backed yout great pleasure.

Would you read and possibly back Jamie 7.

Keep smiling
Joseph D Palermo

ldurrence wrote 1485 days ago

Congratulations! I loved your book. I know Harper Collins will love it too! I'm thinking I may pull your book up and read it with my students online on our smartboard. They will love it.
If you have time please review my book of poems, Through the Storms and Beyond.
Thank you.

LRM wrote 1485 days ago

Congratulations, Helena! I'm so happy for you. Hope things go well.

Susan Bennett wrote 1485 days ago

Congratulations, Helena. Yours is a truly wonderful book which deserves publication. When that happens, many a child's life will be enriched by A Load Of Rubbish. Well done, and all the very best.

Eileen Schuh wrote 1485 days ago

Congratulations! The editor's desk--an honour well-deserved, Helena.

Cameron Sinclair wrote 1485 days ago

I've already backed this some time ago, but I'm more than happy to do so again.

Lichen Burn wrote 1485 days ago

I've now read everything you posted of A Load of Rubbish on this site. It is a fabulous read altogether. Very original story, very well written overall.

Although I wouldn't normally volunteer to read children's fantasy, this is such fun it nevertheless passes my airport test: a bookshop, a long journey, a few quid in the pocket ...

Best of luck

Cyndi Tefft wrote 1485 days ago

Very clever and fun! :)


BillBooker wrote 1485 days ago

Wonderfully mad idea! Shades of Tom Robbins' 'Skinny Legs and All' and Stackridge's 'Mr Mick' album, although this novel has its own inner reality, original and fresh. I love the writing, great dialogue, too. 'A Load of Rubbish' is anything but. Backed!

William J Booker (Trippers)

cookingskewl wrote 1485 days ago

great concept! backed

friend of Sons of Apollyon

Lara wrote 1485 days ago

Hi, I was attracted by your brief synopsis aimed at adults while the book is for children (of parents who will enjoy the ironic humour). I think the first two pages need a little redrafting. e.g. "Thanks!" he eventually said after his panic subsided. Also, the very first paragraphs are not that easy to follow and unless the illustrations are immediate and per page, don't give a very clear visual picture.

It's great to see something original and quirky and hope you continue to do well


Quenntis wrote 1485 days ago

I've read another two chapters and I like the change of setting from the house in chapter one, to the truck in chapter two, to the rubbish dump in chapter three. Your main character starts out as part of a pair. Then he's thrust into a new world of rubbish on the move, and finally ends up in a place populated with 'real' rubbish. As the reader, I'm rooting for him because he has so much in common with us. We can identify immediately with him because we have suffered similar trials in our own lives. How often have we been seperated from our loved ones because of accident or circumstance? How often have we been pushed out into the dark and dangerous world? Nicely done. I can't wait for the HC crit to come out, but I'm sure you're shopping around for agents and publishers. If not, you should. I can imagine this book with some lovely illustrations. Q

Thunderbird wrote 1485 days ago

Hi Helena

I struggle where the boundary is between sentient objects and ones that are not. I think you have a lovely style of writing, describing the orange peel as "fruitless. A very interesting and original take on things.

This is not a book I think I would finish though, I think I am the wrong audience.


Laurence Howard wrote 1485 days ago

Oh! Backed by the way. First time I've backed a load of rubbish and felt good about it!
The Cross of Goa

Laurence Howard wrote 1485 days ago

The quality of wrtiting is beyond reproach. Your inaginative, unique story deserves to be on the Ed deck without question. Very best of luck. I can see young kids loving this.
The Cross of Goa

theweed wrote 1486 days ago

The idea is so original. A great story line - the personifications of a shoe, and other inanimate objects. I was a little hesitant to expect a lot, but this is a great story.

The only critical comment I have is that it might be a bit long to hold a child's interest. It is rather long and drawn out. Not that it detracts from the story, but let's face it, a child has a very short attention span. And as far as young adult, it might be a bit basic for them.

Otherwise, good show.

Mal Muirhead wrote 1486 days ago

Happy but this on my shelf. I will read all of this. Mal Muirhead, Marvellous Mavis and the Devolve-o-Meter

glenn1862 wrote 1486 days ago

Yes, I have backed this, but how can you not love a shoe escaping out the front door. So I will happily put back up on my shelf... I wish you the best of luck. Glenn - The Sons of Apollyon

youwouldthink wrote 1486 days ago

There's a quality to the wirting that sets this apart. The dialogue is very unrestrained and the story is an original one.

RonParker wrote 1486 days ago

Hi Helena,

A dilightful and unusual story. I'm not surprised it is so high in the ratings. Good luck with it.

There are a few typos and tense slips. In chapter one, for example, you have 'planting' which should be 'planted' and 'slid' which should be 'slide'.

Also in the same chapter you have 'the death had stoppped'. I think you mean 'the teeth had stopped'.


Tony Shelley wrote 1486 days ago

Im not really the target audience for this book but i can see that there would be a huge audience for this. i think its a great idea, original and full of exciting . As others have said there are editing issues but i wouldnt worry too much about that - thats what editors are for. Youre on the desk so well done and best of luck with this

Tony Shelley
In My Life

emywoo84 wrote 1486 days ago

Great first chapter with promising dialogue! I found that the way you write is easy to follow and I did follow, with pleasure. Backed, and I'll be back for more! :)

Lady Midnight wrote 1486 days ago

This a fantastic opening. The way you've managed to imbue normally inanimate objects with life is great. For example: he pulled his lace tight against the cold. "They're coming, they're coming," a manic coke can screamed... and 'There's no room, go away," a milk carton cried.

This opening draws the reader in, making them want to read on. The end is great - The carton didn't reply - a most unusual cliff hanger. Did it survive, or was it crushed?

I tried, but failed to find anything I didn't like in the prologue and when time permits, I intend to read on. For now, backed.

Thetinman wrote 1486 days ago

This is certainly not a load of rubbish! What a pleasant read, one both children and adults can enjoy. Well done, and nice to see a future children's classic make the desk!
We've Seen the Enemy

aideendodo2 wrote 1486 days ago

what a fantastic read... I couldnt put it down!!!

Owen Quinn wrote 1486 days ago

what a great idea and pitch. everything smacks of a Pixar movie as a life change through a shoe is brilliant. The viewpoints are steeped in vivid imagery and the writing is so fluid, it carries you alog so quickly, you don't realise how much you've read. funny, comforting and a gorgeous way to pass the time. Lovely.

grimm54 wrote 1487 days ago

I have backed. I like offbeat ideas that also work commercially.

Gary Morton - I have a few books up here.
Vampire Alley
Fabulous Furry World
Channeling the Demon
Channeling the Vampire
The Rainmaker & Other Tales

meemers wrote 1487 days ago

This certainly would be very cute as a Disney movie. I hope they pick it up and run with it.

all the best

nboving wrote 1487 days ago

Just a lovely book. Despite what so many think, children's and YA literature is hard to pull off without seeming to talk down. You've skillfully avoided that trap and talk to them on an equal footing. Kids know this: they're not stupid. This is very well written and certainly one I'd recommend if a parent asked me. It's also fantasy of a high order.


Nicholas ("The Warlock") - Horror/Thriller

Traveller7 wrote 1487 days ago

I ran into the same issue as Mr. Mitchell below. I reread the beginning again because I wasn't sure just who was who. Relying on the pitch to explain who your characters are may not be the best course of action. If/when you do get published, who's to say the pitch will remain as part of the book? You may want to clear that up as part of the story and not as part of the pitch.

Otherwise, this is a very enjoyable story with a very distinctive point of view. It will make a wonderful kids story. :)

Ken B
Eric's War

ldurrence wrote 1487 days ago

I absolutley love the this. I think my students would enjoy this tale.What a great imagination! Thanks for directing me to it. If you have an opportunity, please review my book "Through the Storms and Beyond" I placed you on my bookshelf.

Ron Mitchell wrote 1487 days ago

I was taken aback as I read this. I reread portions because it sounded like the character was a shoe. Then it dawned on me that was the case. I guess I should have paid more attention to the words in your promo. This story has an interesting twist. Good luck with the book. Remember December Gold as read. I would appreciate your comments and backing.
--author of December Gold