Poetry Box review: Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis’s The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist, Juliette MacIver and Sarah Davis, Gecko Press, 2022

Juliette MacIver is a whizz with words. Not all storytellers are as nifty with rhyme and rhythm. Before I sink into Juliette’s story, I overflow with admiration at what Juliette can do with words. She rhymes fox and crocs and socks which is worthy of Dr Seuss. Her rhythm flows like the sweetest currents. Trying saying: GRIZZLED GRIST DOES NOT EXIST out loud. Such mouth watering fun.

Sarah Davis is new to me as an illustrator but she is a whizz with images. She offers a master class in facial expressions. There’s a class full of them on every page, along with the teacher, Ms. Whiskersniff, and hide-and seek Liam (and maybe a mysterious Grist!). I spent ages looking at the class she drew for the endpapers, studying the “look” on every child. Genius!

Ms. Whiskersniff is either mad daring or mad crazy because she is taking her class to the wilderness for adventures and thrills! I LOVED looking at the backpacks of the young hikers and spotting a Swiss army knife, a wooden spoon, a fish slice and a skillet! Someone is going to be cooking something in the GREAT WIDE WILDERNESS!

Before they start climbing, all the children list their skills and then stop and stare at Liam when he says his skill is HIDING! We all need to be good at HIDING in case we need a spot of time out out from the BUSY NOISY world! As I read, I am tramping up the hill and scaling the rocks behind Ms. Whiskersniff, with her fleet of trampers, wondering what Health and Safety would say to ADVENTURES and THRILLS. I am spotting Liam who is very good at hiding indeed, and I am listening hard when he warns about the GRIST ahead!

Will there won’t there? Will there won’t there? Will there won’t there? Will there won’t there? Be a GRIST!!!

Ah! You must tag along as a reading member of this magnificent adventure, to discover the stretch of Juliette’s imagination, her magnetic word play and Sarah’s marvellous illustrations! I will warn you though, there is talk of Cream of Children Soup!

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist is the kind of book that gladdens your heart as both reader and writer, and reminds you Aotearoa children’s books are in the best of hands (and eyes and ears and hearts, and maybe even whiskernoses!). GLORIOUS!

Juliette MacIver is the author of 18 picture books. She has received the Storylines Notable Book Award six times, and has had multiple nominations for awards in NZ, Australia and the U.S. She recently won Best Picture Book in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Juliette lives with her husband and four children in Wellington.

Sarah Davis grew up in New Zealand. She won the 2009 Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Crichton Award for Best New Illustrator. She recently won Best Picture Book in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Sarah lives in Sydney, Australia.

Gecko Press page

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