Bubbay's desert adventure by Josie Wowalla Boyle

cover image

Illus. by Fern Martins. Magabala Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781925936797. pbk., 36pp.
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Wonghi woman, Josie Boyle, born in the remote reaches of Western Australia, brings an authenticity to the story of Bubbay, a lone boy who tends his goats in the desert, selling the milk to those who want it, but especially Mrs Timms, who swaps the milk for eggs.
He beds down for the night on the ground, watching the night sky. He dreams that the falling stars are his friends, coming to earth to be with him, but he longs for family of his own. One night a star tells him to collect five special things by morning for his wish to come true. A stone, a feather, an egg, a seed and a shell need to be found and Bubbay is a little nonplussed about how to go about it. His grandma Gubarlee appears, and invites him to come with her. She enlists the help of Wise Mother Kangaroo, Old Man Emu, Tricky Crow and Bower Bird to collect the things together. But he has one to go, a shell. How to find a shell in the desert?
Each page is layered with the brilliance of the night sky as Bubbay finds the objects he is looking for by morning. The dark blues will mesmerise readers as they are drawn into Bubbay's quest, willing him to succeed and unable to predict what will happen.
The desert environment shines through in the images - the sparse vegetation and the animals that help Bubbay. Each animal is depicted in a background that will help younger readers understand more about them, noting their place in the environment where Bubbay and Mrs Timms live. That Bubbay finds a someone who loves him will thrill younger readers, knowing the importance of family in their lives.
This is a warm-hearted story with vivacious illustrations, first published in 2012 (Bubbay: a Christmas adventure), and now reedited for a new generation of readers. Themes: Aboriginal themes, Outback, Loneliness, Magic.
Fran Knight