Review of ‘Bubbay’s Desert Adventure’

Home » Review of ‘Bubbay’s Desert Adventure’

Bubbay will be known to many families already, indeed I discovered it is a favourite in the house of my lovely neighbour Sam! She spied this re-release on my kitchen bench recently and borrowed it and then emailed me this review – such a handy neighbour to have (also she goes to the bulk Greek food shop often and asks me what I need and she is a lovely neighbour in general!). Thank you Sam for showcasing this beautiful book on Children’s Books Daily for us.

Title: ‘Bubbay’s Desert Adventure’
Reviewer: Dr Sam Lloyd
Author: Josie Wowolla Boyle
Illustrator:  Fern Martins
Publisher: Magabala Books
Age Range:  early childhood, lower primary, middle primary, upper primary.
Themes: Indigenous storytelling, belonging, family, personal challenges and the Australian desert.

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‘Bubbay’s Desert Adventure’


‘Bubbay’s Desert Adventure’ is a re-release of the previously published title ‘Bubbay: A Christmas Adventure’ written by Josie Wowolla Boyle and illustrated by Fern Martins.  I should say at this point that we already own (and love) ‘Bubbay: A Christmas Adventure’ and in our substantial collection of Christmas books, it is consistently one of the children’s favourites. 

With that in mind, I was at first a little unsure as to why this book was being released under a new name.  However, on reviewing this new version I can see that the story, which has been amended slightly, has such broad appeal that it should be shared all year round and not limited to the Christmas period.

‘Bubbay’s Desert Adventure’ is a story about belonging, what it means to be family and never giving up on a wish.  Our main character, Bubbay, is a small kind boy who lives all alone in the Australian outback, looking after his herd of goats.  His friend, Mrs Timms lives in a house nearby and often trades him eggs for some fresh goat’s milk. 

Bubbay has a secret wish and each night he finds the brightest star to wish upon.  The adventure Bubbay undertakes is the result of his wish.  Upon wishing on the brightest star it shoots out of the sky and lands next to him.  The star speaks to Bubbay and asks him to find five special things, but Bubbay is unsure if he can fulfil this challenge.  For Bubbay this adventure also means connecting with his spiritual past and like all good adventures this is really a test of faith and personal resilience. 

Sam’s kids, Georgia & Toby, enjoying this new version of one of their favourite books!

The illustrations in ‘Bubbay’s Desert Adventure’ are bright, engaging and capture both the desert and the spiritual adventure that Bubbay undertakes.  The pictures really help tell the story and guide the reader (or listener) through the Australian outback and into Bubbay’s heart.  I really like the illustrator’s use of colour to share the different day and night scenes with the reader. 

My favourite illustrations are the ones that capture the desert night sky – there is nothing like the Australian desert sky at night, it goes on forever.  My daughter’s favourite is the one of the magic star, shooting towards Bubbay after he has made his wish. 

Every time we read this story my youngest (now 6) asks me if Bubbay has a home, where his family is and why is he by himself when (in her words) “he is only a little boy”.  This provides us with a very good opportunity to discuss ideas around home, family and independence.  We talk about how a home and family can mean different things to different people and how the people we love (and who love us) can be family whether we are related by blood or not.  I think this is a beautiful story, a perfect gift and really speaks to children about what it means to have a family.


A note on Magabala Books:

Magabala Books is Australia’s leading Indigenous publishing house. Aboriginal owned and led, we celebrate and nurture the talent and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices”.

For many of us, Magabala Books is most notably associated with Bruce Pascoe’s ‘Dark Emu’ and ‘Young Dark Emu: A Truer History’, which Megan has reviewed here – but the publishing house has a huge number of engaging and inspiring Indigenous publications, including titles such as ‘Cooee Mittigar’ by Jasmine Seymour Leanne Mulgo Watson (review here) and many wonderful titles by authors such as Greg Dreise, including ‘Kookoo Kookaburra’ (review here).  For more information on Magabala Books visit their website.


Dr Samantha Lloyd is an ecologist and environmental manager with a passion for the Australian bush, children’s literature, dance, music and baking.

Having graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Science (Biology), 1st Class Honours in 1998 and a PhD (pollination ecology) in 2006, Sam has worked as an environmental manager for the SEQ regional NRM body; as an entomologist for the Australian and New Zealand Fire Ant Control Programs; and as Coordinator of the Moreton Bay Oil Spill Environmental Restoration Program.

Sam’s long-standing daytime gig is as Manager of the South East Queensland Fire and Biodiversity Consortium, with bushfire ecology and awareness being another of her passions.


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1 Comment

  1. Donna McDine on May 16, 2020 at 12:23 am

    Wonderful review. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention!

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