Mate and Me


“The boy from upstairs plays in the yard. His name is Matata. I call him Mate for short. When I see him I shout, ‘Hello Mate!’, but he doesn’t join in my games.”

When Mate moves in upstairs, he has an instant friend. But Mate is shy and learning to adapt to a new home. There’s a new family downstairs too. A secret family. Where have the families come from and what happens when the downstairs family goes missing? Where will their silver treasures lead?

A celebration of the power of friendship in the face of displacement and loneliness.

Author Bio:

Jennifer Loakes is a Brisbane-based writer and ‘Mate and Me’ is her first picture book. Jennifer is the Principal Policy Officer at Arts Queensland and is responsible for policy development and public performance reporting. Additionally, Jennifer is a psychologist (provisionally registered) and currently completing a Master of Organisational Psychology at the University of Queensland.

Jennifer was inspired to write ‘Mate and Me’ after she discovered a family of birds living in the garage of a local restaurant complex. She started thinking about displaced wildlife and displaced families, and the factors that might assist humans to adapt to new environments. ‘Mate and Me’ is a story about a boy who desperately wants to be friends with his new neighbour, a very shy and curious boy who has recently immigrated to Australia. The boys are drawn together by a local family of birds.


Belinda Elliott grew up on Sydney’s north shore, spending many hours drawing and painting its bushland. She studied fine arts and illustration when she left school, learning the intricacies of drawing, printmaking, sculpture and painting. Later she went on to study illustration at Enmore Design Centre. She has worked as an illustrator creating designs to be used on children’s clothing as well as producing illustrations for books. She has painted many murals, some for children, cultural centres, schools and workspaces. ‘Mate and Me’ is her second picture book.


  • Story about displacement and loneliness
  • Power of friendship
  • Themes of immigration and resettlement
  • Encourages the reader to think about how and why new immigrants might feel isolated and how they can be made to feel welcome