I love these books a lot.
I love their gentle pace and laid back attitudes.
I love their environmental credentials and back to nature ethos.
I love their attention to details.
I love their emphasis on problem solving, responsibility and being capable.
I love their zen-like, go with the flow, be in the moment philosophy.
But most of all I love how these books remind us that we are all a part of nature. Our natural environment is affected by our interactions with it whether we live in the city or the country.
As Balla says in the Teacher’s Notes produced by her publisher, Allen & Unwin,
When you stop trying to get anywhere and just be, a whole world of wonder can open up to you. And when you stop going with a plan and follow the flow, you may find a world of unexpected opportunities revealing themselves to you. The more you look the more you find out. It’s also about realising we are part of the natural world, rather than separate to it, and that we are not alone, but surrounded by other life. Themes of growing up and realising what we are capable of are also explored.
Rockhopping is also respectful to the indigenous tribes of The Grampians (Gariwerd) in Victoria. Balla uses traditional names and common names for places as well as referring to aspects of Aboriginal culture throughout the book.
Commonsense, logic and thorough preparation are also applauded. There is a page of items that Clancy and Egg collected before they went off on their adventure. Practical handy survival tips are interwoven into the story at various points.
Balla adds an historical perspective to one of the sections. Day five shows a timeline with Clancy and Uncle Egg discussing the value of a good walking stick on a big bushwalk. The timeline then shows the same stick being used by a logger, a goldminer, a Chinese market gardener, a squatter and a Jardwadjali woman to dig.
Several trips to the region were integrated into ongoing discussions with local indigenous elders which helped Balla ensure that the local knowledge was authentic and up to date.
Balla received lots of support from local elders. She said in an interview on Reading Time that,
Milipiri Elder Wanta Jampijimpa has given me encouragement to keep doing these stories, that he says are about ‘reading country” and giving hope. Renowned environmental educator David Suzuki has also given me encouragement about my books inspiring kids to be in nature. These two elders encouragement points to passing on wisdom that we often lose sight of in our modern, often urban culture.