Shortlisted for this year's CBCA Picture Book of the Year, Rivertime is a gentle, meandering story that celebrates connections and nature.
Balla spent ten days with her partner paddling 80km of the Glenelg River one summer. She kept a journal and sketched her experiences of the trip which then formed the basis for this story and its illustrations.
Done in the style of a graphic novel with easy to read speech bubbles, we follow Uncle Egg and Clancy on their boy's own adventure paddling up the river with no technology (except for a pair of binoculars) and no schedule.
I loved the gentle pace of this story and how you gradually slip into 'rivertime' yourself as you read along, stopping to take note of all the details and information included on each page.
Balla has infused the story with respect. From the relationships of the main characters with each other, to respect for the environment and the local Indigenous tribes. This is a book full of heart and wonder and care.
The end papers are full of nature-loving pictures - the front showing off all the bird life to be found in the area - and the back featuring animals, reptiles, fish and plants.
The illustrations are simple line drawings, coloured with an earthy palette. Most of the pages include lots of animals and plants for you to find and name.
Suitable to be read aloud to 4+ nature lovers, but perfect for primary school aged children to enjoy too. Covering many of the themes required by the Australian Curriculum including self-discovery, exploring, learning new skills, perseverance, bonding, appreciating nature and taking notice.