Rockhopping, by Trace Bella
Updated: Jan 10, 2021
This picture book, in the style of a graphic novel, is an engrossing account of young Clancy’s adventure with Uncle Egg, around Gariwerd (the Grampian mountains in Victoria) to find the source of the Glenelg River. The story flows in a meandering way, much as a river might – at times reflective and gentle, at other times rushing ahead. At first Clancy is distracted by external discomforts, such as his heavy backpack, and sore feet – but eventually, as he adjusts to the physical activity, he finds himself pausing to examine insects, small animals and the surrounding wildlife.
Young readers will also find themselves pausing to linger over the detail in the comic-style – often humorous - illustrations, which are so completely absorbing that they draw you into the environment. It begins to feel like we are there with Clancy and Uncle Egg, huddling by the warmth of a fire, staring up at the sparkling night skies, and drinking cool fresh water from the river. The labelled flora and fauna is delightfully reminiscent of a school project and provides ample opportunities for curious young readers to conduct further independent research.
Young readers will enjoy observing Clancy’s growing sense of independence, highlighted in the scenes when he gets separated from Uncle Egg, and manages to find shelter, and light a fire. The bond between Clancy and Uncle Egg is particularly delightful, with both relying on each other for companionship and sharing of stories.
There are gentle messages that flow through this story of adventure, including the way in which taking a detour can lead to unexpected surprises and discovery – such as the huge lake Clancy and Uncle Egg come across, where they delight in swimming and drinking the fresh water. It is here that Clancy observes that “…I’m part of the lake and it’s part of me..” - a nice reflection on our oneness with nature, and the importance of being in harmony with our environment.
Rockhopping is ultimately a celebration of imagination, nature, being in tune with our environment, and adventure.
This book would be perfect for use in a classroom setting to explore themes of caring for our environment, traditional place names, sports and physical activity, different artistic devices, and many other topics that fit in with the Australian school curriculum.
Rockhopping is a stand-alone sequel to Trace Balla’s award-winning ‘Rivertime.’
Published by Allen & Unwin