WHEN you pick up Mornington Peninsula author Andrea Rowe’s new book Jetty Jumping, it’s instantly apparent why it has won the early childhood category of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year.
The book uses imaginative and lyrical language and timeless themes of friendship, bravery, and the importance of place, with illustrations by Hannah Sommerville that capture the essence of youthful seaside summers.
Set in a coastal town that could be anywhere on the peninsula, the jetty plays a starring role in the book, alongside young girl Milla, who is afraid of jumping into the water.
Rowe says she drew on her love of the seaside and jetties to create the story, which first started when she was “dangling my feet over the pier” and eating fish and chips at the beach.
“I love jetties and I love hanging out at the beach, so when I was there one day I started to create this story,” she said.
“I scribbled some ideas and notes on the fish and chip paper, and it just came to life.”
While her friends jump off the jetty, nervous Milla is too scared of the shadows beneath the water’s surface. But when she accidentally falls in, she is awakened to the beauty of the world beneath the surface and her summers change forever.
Rowe said the book has been embraced by readers and educators, with 21,000 copies being printed since last year’s release.
She said the judges remarked on the story’s handling of “healthy risk taking”, which they saw as an important subject for children to be exposed to.
While the book is about having fun at the beach and on the jetty, it’s also about overcoming fear and anxiety and “moving forward”.
Rowe said the CBCA is a literary award held in high esteem and she felt honoured to stand among so many talented Australian authors.
The mother of two and Peninsula Essence writer runs the Peninsula Writers Club and is working with illustrator Sommerville on a second book, Sunday Skating, due out next year.