Fabish: the Horse That Braved the Bushfires by Neridah McMullin

Fabish: the Horse That Braved the Bushfires
Author: Neridah McMullin
Andrew McLean
Published: October 5 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Children (Picturebook)
Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $14.99

I received a copy of Fabish from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A powerful and beautifully illustrated picture book based on the true story of a brave horse called Fabish, who saved a group of young horses during the Black Saturday bushfires.

SHORT-LISTED: CBCA Book of the Year, Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, 2017

Fabish was a handsome grey racehorse. In his racing days, he wasn’t the fastest horse, but he always tried his hardest. And when he retired, Fabish took care of the yearlings in a paddock far away from the training track. Fabish showed the flighty young horses what was expected of a racehorse.

One hot summer day, a wild wind blew up and the yearlings were restless. Then Fabish smelled smoke. Fire was coming, fast. The trainer threw open the gate and said, ‘Go now!’ Fabish neighed to the young ones and they galloped away. All through the night, the fire raged and the trainer battled to save the racehorses in the stables.

But what would become of Fabish and the yearlings? Could he save them from the firestorm?

Anyone who spends a lot of time talking to me about picturebooks knows that picturebooks that tell the story of real events (particularly real Australian events) are books I’m automatically intrigued by. Somehow I missed Fabish: the Horse That Braved a Bushfire when it was originally published and shortlisted for the CBCA Awards, but I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to read and review it now.

Fabish tells the story of a former racehorse who is caught in the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. When the fires approached the property he lived on, Fabish’s trainer, Alan, opened the fences to let Fabish and the other yearling horses free and to fend for themselves in the fires while he and three other racehorses had to withstand the fire in a stone stables.

I wasn’t familiar with this particular story, or Fabish’s career as a racehorse, but this was an inspiring story of the courage of animals and their ability to survive in unprecedented circumstances. And while Fabish, and the other yearlings, survived the fires, so many other animals during the same fires didn’t which opens up an important discussion about the impact of Australia’s bushfires which are dangerous and deadly.

The illustrations are beautiful and evocative of the emotions on each page. From Fabish’s racehorse career, to his life in the fields, to the terrifying scenes of Alan and the racehorses trapped inside while the bushfire rages outside, to the relief when Fabish returns, each page draws you further into the story.

This is a great addition to anyone’s Aussie picturebook collection.

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