Jack and Raf are good mates. They live in Broome, Western Australia, and have lived there since they were babies.
They love their life in the Kimberley. During the dry season, it’s a little cooler but in the wet season, it’s hot and sticky. That’s when Jack and Raf catch big green frogs on Jack’s Nan’s verandah.
Sometimes the boys go fishing with Raf’s Dad. He knows where all the good fishing spots are. Salmon is a specialty. They also hunt with Uncle Ned, who knows all about bush tucker and spotting barni (goanna). On Saturdays, both boys love to go to the Courthouse markets where they nibble satay with rice and watch the buskers. They also love to swim, ride on quad bikes and play imaginary games – flying through the cosmos, stopping off at planets along the way.
But there’s something a little different about this friendship. Although it’s not noticeable through the story, young Raf never stands or walks in this book. He is wheelchair bound with spina bifida yet this lovely, simple tale reveals nothing until the very end of the story – in so doing, proving that disability is in the eye of the beholder – and no disability can kybosh true friendship and an inherent zest for life.
This book has been written about two real life boys living in Broome, and the boys and their families are introduced at the end of the book, complete with photos. Author Melanie Prewett not only reveals the boys’ abiding friendship, she takes the reader on a delightful tour of the Kimberley that is a joy to share in, and is glaring in its polarity to the life of many modern city kids.
Illustrator Maggie Prewett has beautifully captured the vitality and mateship of these two young boys, with vibrant illustrations, awash with colour and warmth.
Both author and illustrator are descended from the Ngarluma people of the Pilbara region of WA. Melanie and Maggie are mother and grandmother to Jack, respectively. A note from Raf’s mum Kim at the end of the book adds an inspiring touch to this lovely story, encouraging kids to view others by seeing what they can do rather than what they can’t.
Two Mates is published by Magabala Books.