A Berry Long Walk is the first in a new series (The Wild Life) by Laura and Philip Bunting.
The stars of the story are Wombat and Roo who are new neighbours. Readers are introduced to them, and join them on their first adventure together.
Wombat is a homebody who is wary of the dangers he believes are lurking in the bush, and prefers the comfort of his burrow over anywhere too far away. He doesn’t like change, but he loves eating, especially bush berries.
Roo is more of an explorer, and will give new things a go. She convinces Wombat to join her on a walk because she’s heard there are berries ‘a short walk’ away. Roo thinks it should be fun, but Wombat isn’t so sure.
There are surprises, dangers and disagreements along the way, and it’s possible there might not actually be any berries at the end, but Wombat and Roo cement their friendship over the course of their journey. And Wombat even discovers new confidence.
The Wild Life series has been created with Laura and Philip Bunting’s characteristic style. They wanted to ‘apply picture book principles (e.g. fewer words, full illustrations, fun!) to a long-format children’s book’, and I think it has worked a treat.
There are lots of great things about A Berry Long Walk. The Australian characters and landscape. Plenty of colourful, appealing pictures. Positive messages. Plus a bonus map of the Gumnut Forest and the animals’ journey. Read and listen carefully for the humour and jokes, too. They can be found in both the text and the illustrations.
A Berry Long Walk is the start of a fantastic new series for beginning and newly independent readers, and is highly recommended.
Title: A Berry Long Walk
Author: Laura Bunting
Illustrator: Philip Bunting
Publisher: Scholastic, $15.99
Publication Date: May 2022
For ages: 6 – 8
Type: Junior Fiction