Friday 12 August 2022

Subbie and His Mate

Subbie and His Mate by Corinne Fenton, illustrated by Mark Wilson (Ford Street Publishing) PB RRP $16.95 ISBN: 9781925804980

Reviewed by Dannielle Viera 

Subzero was a famous Australian racehorse – but few people know the joy he brought folks after his retirement. A man named Graham Salisbury purchased Subzero, and the affable horse became a favourite among the students at the Apprentice Jockey Program. Children were drawn to Subzero’s gentleness, so Graham took him to visit schools; later, the duo cheered up sick and lonely people in hospitals and aged-care homes. Graham and Subzero were best mates for twenty-six years.

Corinne Fenton’s narrative non-fiction picture book gallops through Subzero’s remarkable life, focusing not on the horse’s fame and fortune but on his ability to connect with and comfort the humans around him. Kids aged seven and older will adore Subzero’s cheeky side and discover the uplifting nature of unadulterated kindness.

Mark Wilson has illustrated Subzero’s story using a wide variety of media, from coloured pencils and watercolours to oil pastels and acrylic paints. This ensures that each spread explodes with visual excitement and energy, as well as a unique dynamism that reflects the racing gait of the thoroughbred.


Subbie and His Mate celebrates the bond that can form between humans and animals when love and trust lead the way. Children will cherish the friendship between Subzero and Graham, and no doubt wish they had a neighing mate of their own.

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