BOYLE, Josie (text) Fern Martins (illus.) The Spotty Dotty Lady Magabala, 2014 unpaged $17.95 pbk ISBN 9781922142108 SCIS 1655087
‘Once there lived a sad lady whose only friends were the pretty flowers in her garden, until, one day, she discovered in the garden a strange new plant sporting a huge, spotty bud. Intrigued, she watered and watched it, eager to see what sort of flower it would produce. One morning she was astonished to find a huge, beautiful and extravagantly spotted bloom. So delighted was she with the spotty dotty flower, that . . .’ Word spread quickly and soon neighbours appeared to marvel, stayed to drink tea and soon the sad lady had a host of cheerful friends from many cultures.
This gentle story raises awareness of the lonely and isolated people living in any society and examines the relationship between nature/environment and people, a theme frequently visited in Aboriginal stories. The simple text and luminous watercolour illustrations sensitively chart the sad lady’s metamorphosis into the exuberant, hospitable centre of the newly colourful neighbourhood. I loved the way the colours intensify as the lady grows and glows with confidence and excitement.
Josie Boyle is a Wonghi woman from Western Australia, a singer, storyteller and artist. Fern Martins is an Ngarabul woman from NSW, a sculptor, printmaker and artist who has exhibited at the National Gallery of Australia and lectured at the University of Adelaide. This is their second collaboration.
reviewed by Joy Steward