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A journey by canoe from the upper reaches of a river to where it meets the ocean is the simple, yet elegantly related story of this book, presented as a graphic novel for younger readers. Clancy, a likeable 10 and a half year old, is initially aghast at the thought of being so far from civilisation, from his computer games, toys and home comforts. Yet in the capable care of Uncle Egg — an admirably kind and empathic male father-figure — Clancy’s eyes are gradually opened to the unfolding adventure and the wonders of nature, particularly birdwatching, about which Uncle Egg is so knowledgeable.
Along the way, electronic games and devices quite forgotten, Clancy sets and achieves his own minor challenge to get from the river onto a wooden wharf without help. Rivertime works at a number of levels — as an information book, as a ‘road (canoe) trip’, and, with Clancy’s growing engagement with the natural world, as a coming-of-age story. Trace Balla’s illustrations work in great harmony with the text she has created, and the book is captivating throughout. The final illustrations are a heartwarming conclusion to this thoroughly enjoyable, informative and beautifully realised work.