Rockhopping by Trace Balla
Published by Allen and Unwin
This joyous book for young and old is a celebration of the great outdoors, slowing down, friendship and the marvellous planet on which we live.
Uncle Egg and Clancy meander on foot across Gariwerd (the Grampians) to the source of the Glenelg River which they floated down on their last adventure in the celebrated Rivertime. In Rockhopping, Clancy's survival skills are put to the test when he’s accidentally separated from Uncle Egg, adding a pleasing amount of tension to this gentle book. Balla's respect for the traditional owners of this country is evident throughout the narrative, and explicit in her acknowledgements.
There is so much to delight the reader in these pages. The illustration style is bursting with life, vitality and freedom as the story meanders with the wanderers across the mountain range. It’s an unusual hybrid of graphic-novel style and sweeping landscape pages, and a combination of speech-bubbled dialogue and narration. This is a delightfully engaging travel journal complete with neat and naive handwriting.
I fell in love with Balla's scribbly and free illustration style, which captures something so distinctly Australian. Packed with humorous and quirky detail, warmth and humour, the texture in every illustration is perfect - scraggly bark and scribbly scrubland, rippling water and smudgy skies (my favourite is the night sky) and encompasses the end papers.
This rewarding read echoes the narrative flow - slowing down and appreciating the little and big things. This is a love story to an amazing country and planet on which we live.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author/Illustrator: Trace Bella
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: March 2016