'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Review: Rockhopping

Trace Balla's first book, the award-winning Rivertime, was just one of those books I kept strangely, weirdly missing. Everyone else was raving about it, and I just never ran into it. Happily, when I did, I was as entranced as every other soul who had done the raving.

It's a truly divine book, and in this follow-up, Trace has once again created a serene yet lively tale that weaves its way around the heart and soul of our natural world, sneaking into the crevices of rocks and tree trunks and the gaps between leaves, with humour and warmth and beauty.

Clancy and the inimitable Uncle Egg are once again on the go, rockhopping their way around Gariwerd--or Victoria's magnificent Grampians mountains. They're keen to find the source of the meandering Glenelg River, the very river they traced in Rivertime.

I loved reading through the boys' latest adventure. With endlessly detailed, speech-bubbled and quasi-graphic-novel style imagery and layout, Trace does a wonderful job of building a visual and text narrative that rises and falls, stops and starts, charges ahead and pauses, just as nature does each and every day.

I love that this story once again makes us slow down and ponder the natural world, of which we are borne. I love that it helps kids align with the concept of 'flow'--how important it is to trust in the process of life and to resist the modern-day penchant for twisting our natural world, our fellow man, and even our very thoughts, to suit our means.

I love that it shows children that delightful surprises and the unexpected are a result of going with this flow. I love that this book's characters are inherently human, flawed, fun and well-meaning. And I love that it introduces kids to a truly beautiful part of our country.

Although the relatively rampant text in this book would suit slightly older readers, the consistent action, movement and image will readily engage younger children being read to.

Title: Rockhopping
Author/Illustrator: Trace Balla
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $24.99 RRP
Publication Date: 23 March 2016
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9781760112349
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book/Graphic Novel

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