The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist
Gecko Press, 2022
36pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99
It’s the class trip to Dismal Hills wilderness. and the children are excited to show off their outdoor skills—foraging, climbing, trapping and hiking – under the leadership of the indomitable Ms Whiskersniff (who prefers to be called Ms Whisk). That is, all except quiet little Liam who would rather hide…
A hider moves with soundless ease and treads as softly as the breeze.
At times, a hider barely breathes—but what is this the hider sees?
But when what he sees is dismissed as non-existent let alone a threat, the class finds themselves in big trouble. Can Liam save them by being the world’s best Hider?
From endpaper to endpaper (and including them) this is a brilliant story that should be shared just for the fun of it. It bounces along in rhyming language, mostly carried in the conversation between Ms Whisk and Liam, but superbly accompanied by the illustrations which are such an integral part of the story, as the best picture books are. Readers will delight in spotting the clues that observant Liam does and many will relate to being the more introverted, non-outdoorsy type so often not seen and not heard.
But as well as the clever wordplay and diverse characters, this story will appeal because it is just an entertaining, engaging read. There’s no overt message of impending global gloom, doom and disaster (unless you count the fate of Ms Whisk and Liam’s classmates) that seem to permeate so many recent picture books for young readers and while there is much to discover and discuss, there is not the sense that they must do something as a result of reading the story – except to read it again and again for the sheer joy of it.