Josie Wowolla Boyle (text) and Fern Martins (illustrator), Bubbay’s Desert Adventure, Magabala Books, March 2020, 32 pp., RRP $17.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781925936797
A story that tingles and warms in every sense; Bubbay’s Desert Adventure is one of magic and hope. Acclaimed storyteller, Wonghi woman, Josie Wowolla Boyle pairs with the illustrative talents of Nrarabul woman, Fern Martins to produce this spectacular new edition of a lonely boy in the desert set on a quest to make his wish for a family come true.
Told in traditional style to that of Dreamtime Stories, the magic of dreams and the guidance of stars leads its characters on a journey of growth and strength. With only a soft patch of ground, the warmth of a fire and a small herd of goats in tow, young Aboriginal boy, Bubbay’s only occasional human interaction is with Mrs Timms; the lady he exchanges goats’ milk with for some fresh eggs. One night, Bubbay imagines all the families settling down to sleep in their warm beds, and with a glow in his heart, the glow of a falling star (one of his only friends) appears and requests five special things in return for a surprise in the morning. The spirit of his elder, grandma Gubarlee, and a cast of popular Australian outback animals, are valued in their supporting role to Bubbay, helping him on his mission to bring him the love of a family of his own.
Clearly emotive, with richly textured illustrations in earthy shades of pencil truly stand out and glow to reach the soul of every heart. With peace, love and a longing for family at its core, Bubbay’s Desert Adventure is a special story for early childhood readers of all parts of the world, evidently connecting with our need for security and belonging.
Reviewed by Romi Sharp