The first time Uncle Egg took me on an adventure, canoeing, it was his idea. This time the adventure was my idea – or maybe it was both of ours …
‘I wonder where all this water comes from.’
‘How about we go and find out sometime, kid?
Well, some time came and some time went, and I was ready to go looking for the source of the river … or at least I thought so.
Clancy and Uncle Egg are off on another adventure. This time, they’re off to seek the source of the Glenelg River. Clancy is ready to go, but discovers that first he has to do some preparation. Fortunately, Uncle Egg knows just what to do, and Clancy is soon in training. Then they plan what has to go in each of their backpacks, before setting off in the train to Gariwerd (Grampians) in Western Victoria. Their hike takes them up and down hills and mountains and includes plenty of adventure, both expected and unplanned. In addition to the narrative, local fauna and flora are identified throughout and in the endpapers, both in local languages and in English. Indigenous and colonial history are both explored. ‘Rockhopping is an 80-page graphic novel, wrapped in a picture book hardcover.
Clancy and Uncle Egg’s first outing, canoeing along the Glenelg River, is detailed in ‘Rivertime’. Rockhopping sees the pair searching for the source of the same river. They know where to look for it, but looking and finding are different things. It’s very clear that the joy is in the journey as much as – if not more than – the destination. Trace Balla fills her pages with adventure and knowledge. Clancy, the viewpoint character is a primary school student, and embodies a wonderful blend of openness, innocence and knowledge. He is happy to learn from his uncle and others they encounter, but he’s also developing a calmness and resilience and some great problem-solving skills. Rockhopping is a rich, accessible delight. Highly recommended for mid-primary plus.
Rockhopping, Trace Balla
Allen & Unwin 2016 ISBN: 9781760112349
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller