Drip, Drop is a small wordless picturebook from the early 1970s. Its visual narrative moves the straightforward storyline steadily forwards in clear, incremental steps that a young child can easily understand.
We begin by seeing a little boy hurrying home for his tea. Shortly after bedtime the house in which he lives is engulfed by a torrential rainstorm, and a roof tile is dislodged. Indoors, we witness a stream of water gradually making its way down through each floor, starting with the leak in the roof and ending with the drain in the cellar.
This inevitable descent of the water is watched eagerly by a curious baby, a disgruntled dog and a young boy, the latter of whom sees it as an excellent opportunity to sail his toy ship in a puddle.
The grown-ups in the story are barely seen, but adults reading this book – especially those who have experienced a household leak themselves – are likely to interpret the tale somewhat differently to a child reader. The former can probably well imagine the damage the water is doing on its journey, while the latter is likely to see it more as a great adventure and a chance for play. This gives the book dual address, and thereby added resonance.
Carrick produced his illustrations as black-and-white pencil and wash drawings, which were given a wash overlay for the blue background colour. The dripping water is shown in white, making it easy to follow its progress.
Thankfully both adults and children are likely to find the resolution – when on the following day the sun shines again and workmen get busy mending the damaged roof – suitably satisfying.
This prolific American artist, illustrator of more than 80 books, died at 60 in 1989. His gentle, funny book is worth revisiting and is especially suitable for sharing with pre-school children – but all ages should find its story relatable and entertaining.