Book Review A Walk in the Bush
Author: Written and Illustrated by Gwyn Perkins
Publisher: Affirm Press, $24.99
Cold weather is not my favourite. As spring approaches and the weather warms, my thoughts turn to walks in the sunshine and picnics in the park. I know I’m not the only one whose spirits are lifted as the temperature increases and the layers of coats and thermals decrease. We are so fortunate in this country to have such beautiful weather (even I have to admit our winters are pretty amazing). And to have such a variety of unique flora, fauna and natural spaces, right on our doorstep, offers some great opportunities to engage with our environment.
That’s what this book is all about. A Walk in the Bush (by Gwyn Perkins) tells us the story of Little Iggy, who is taken on a journey of discovery in the great outdoors by Grandad. As they walk they encounter goannas, wallabies, and a wide variety of native birds. They delight in the colourful feathers and diverse songs of kookaburras, cockatoos, magpies and noisy miners. They are surprised by the close proximity of wildlife. They enjoy the taste of cool, fresh water on a warm day. They savour the scent of eucalyptus. They look closely at the world around them, making exciting discoveries and using their imagination. Readers join Little Iggy and Grandad on an immersive, sensory experience of the world.
My favourite page depicts Little Iggy and Grandad in quiet contemplation. There are no words on this page. It oozes peace and tranquillity. I really admire Perkins’ ability to communicate this so strongly using such simple illustrative and written techniques.
Simplicity is a very strong characteristic of this book. I think this is best evidenced by Perkins’ choice to depict Little Iggy as a cat rather than a child. Simply put, cats do not talk. By removing Little Iggy’s entire side of the conversation, our focus is directed to the illustrations. We notice more, like Little Iggy’s face when Grandad makes him wear a baseball cap, or the birds and lizards hidden in the bushes on many of the pages.
Perkins has been rewarded for his thoughtful and clever decisions. A Walk in the Bush was recently awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Picture Book of the Year for 2018. This in an amazing achievement considering that this is Perkins’ first attempt at writing a children’s book (he has illustrated before but this is his first book as author and illustrator). His purpose for writing this book was twofold: to encourage us to spend more time with those we love, and to encourage us to spend more time exploring the great wide world around us. Why not inspire your own natural excursion with those you love by accompanying Little Iggy and Grandad on theirs?