Elizabeth Mary Cummings
Big Sky, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Ruby is really keen to help the animals that have been injured in a recent bushfire, but is finding it tricky because she is confined to a wheelchair because she broke her leg when her horse threw her when it was spooked by the smoke. Pushing a wheelchair over rough ground is hard work and so she has to be satisfied with helping her mother rake leaves so that the house is more fireproof before the next fire season. She is even more determined when she finds a possum with burned paws, and that night she gets inspiration from an unusual source…
This is a timely release as we are urged by state bushfire authorities to prepare our homes during these cooler months in preparation for the summer fire season, and in fact, it contains a checklist from the NSW Rural Fire Service to encourage families to take action. But it also a story that demonstrates to young readers that they are not powerless and that there are things they can do to help not only in preparing their home but in caring for the wildlife that will be inevitably impacted and injured as well.
While stories like this and The Fire Wombat bring the heart-breaking impact of fire to our attention, others like Alight: A Story of Fire and Nature show that it is an integral part of the life cycle of the bush and thus, even our young readers, need to be aware and ready.