Tag Archives: wombats

Diary of a Rescued Wombat – Jackie French/Bruce Whatley

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Harper Collins

November 2022

  • ISBN: 9781460761823
  • ISBN 10: 1460761820
  • Imprint: HarperCollins AU
  • List Price: 24.99 AUD

Twenty years ago Jackie French and Bruce Whatley collaborated on what was to be the first of ‘the Wombat’ books, and you might say, the rest is history! To celebrate this milestone, this is an absolutely not-to-be-missed prequel to the entire series with the story of the rescue of Mothball – arguably the most famous wombat in history.

Following the immediately recognisable format of the first – and ensuing books – readers can trace Mothball’s journey from tiny furless solitary joey to rambunctious and bossy big girl, now grandmother. All of us who follow Jackie’s socials love to see the parade of wombats (and other creatures) who make themselves at home at her place. And some of us, such as myself, who have been fortunate to visit Jackie’s place (a couple of times) have been equally excited by significant wombat aspects as with chatting with Jackie :-).

I’m in love with Bruce’s illustrations as always, but the instantly recognisable adult humans (Jackie and Bryan) made me chuckle. If I had a library unit coming along with little people looking at Australian animals, I think I would dedicate the whole library unit to the Wombat books (and study of them), and am contemplating writing the unit up as a ‘just in case’ for next year.

As always with Jackie’s books, I feel completely superfluous giving my own humble recommendation – you know they are just a given for your order list – but seriously, how can you go past such an adorable insight into the ‘almost true’ history of Mothball.

My highest recommendation (I can’t wait to share it with a class!) for little readers from toddlers upwards. By the way, have you got your commemorative coin yet?? It’s a fine addition to my ‘bookish’ coin collection I must say!

The Fire Wombat – Jackie French. Illustrated by Danny Snell.

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Harper Collins Australia

October 2020

  • ISBN: 9781460759332
  • ISBN 10: 1460759338
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – AU
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

A year ago Australia was gripped by the raging fires that were sweeping through so many areas with ferocity causing so much devastation in their wake that the whole world was gasping as the scenes were broadcast. According to sources the destruction wreaked by Black Summer was unprecedented: 72 000 square miles burnt, 5 900 buildings destroyed (around half of these homes) and 34 people lost their lives. An estimated three billion land animals were impacted with some endangered species suspected to be now extinct. The Kid and I were visiting family in the Blue Mountains and the constant vigilance and state of alert around the fires that kept springing up across the ranges was both exhausting and stressful. Jackie French was just one of thousands evacuated when her home came under threat and given that the valley in which she lives is heavily populated with wildlife she was a firsthand witness to the dreadful impact on our native species.

With so many animals displaced and their food/water supplies destroyed an army of volunteers took on the role of providing fodder and clean water for thousands of creatures who otherwise would have succumbed as victims in the aftermath.

The Fire Wombat is just one of these and Jackie has crafted a beautiful testament in rhyme to illustrate the survival of our fauna, both with their own instincts and the compassionate help of so many.

One small wombat realises that bushfire is approaching and leads other animals to the shelter of her burrow, knowing that underground is the safest place to be. When the inferno has passed the creatures emerge and try to make their way out of the charred remains of their home territory, scalding their paws as they traverse the baked earth. But the fires have destroyed everything – grass, seeds, foliage, creeks and waterholes. If not for the legion of helpers dropping tons of carrots and other fodder as well as providing water, the decimation of our native wildlife would have been even greater. Jackie has captured this moving moment in our history beautifully and Danny Snell’s illustrations are a perfect accompaniment providing visual insight into the terrible destruction of the forests and mountainsides.

A truly beautiful book to both springboard discussions about supporting our fragile environment, caring for our wildlife and preparing for as well as recovering from bushfire season.

Watch Jackie’s video clip of the real Fire Wombat – now chubby and healthy after her recuperation.

You can find other images of animal rescue from Black Summer here at the Atlantic and an inspiring video of the work done by volunteers in saving animals.

I cannot recommend this highly enough – I would encourage multiple copies for your collection – and teaching notes are also available which will provide excellent scaffolding for use in your library or classroom.

That’s Not My Wombat – Fiona Watt/Rachel Wells

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Harper Collins Australia

September 2020

  • ISBN: 9781474980470
  • ISBN 10: 1474980473
  • Imprint: Usborne – GB
  • List Price: 14.99 AUD

I can tell you something about the Usborne Touchy-Feely books – it’s not just the little ones who love these! The Narwhal version I included in my recent Book Bonanza to celebrate Book Week was the most highly sought after ‘lucky dip’ out of all 50 books on offer – and the year 8 girl who won it was absolutely ecstatic!!

The patches of texture included in each illustration whether shiny, fuzzy, smooth or fluffy will delight the littlest readers as they touch each special spot encouraging their sensory awareness as well as vocabulary.

This is such a cute little series for babies and toddlers – and of course, wombats are particularly endearing so this is bound to be a real hit with the teeny ones. I’ll be popping this one into a parcel for a friend expecting her first baby and I’m sure it will be very well received. Why not include it in your next baby shower parcel?

The Snow Wombat – Susannah Chambers – illustrated by Mark Jackson

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snowwombat

ISBN: 9781760113810

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Imprint: A & U Children

June 2016

 

RRP $24.99

Those of us in tropical Queensland rarely, if ever, get to experience the High Country under its wintery blanket of snow.  I was hoping to take Small there these holidays to visit friends, snow and wombats but alas! The expense of plane fares was too much for our budget.

At least we will be able to have a vicarious experience as we follow a joyful young wombat gambolling and rolling in a very snowy expanse.

Little ones will love the rhyming text (though I will be interested to see how many will predict that ‘bum’ will rhyme with ‘gums’!) which spreads over pages allowing plenty of opportunity to guess what is coming up next.

Although the terrain may be unfamiliar to many children they will readily identify this as an Australian landscape with recognisable road signs and vegetation and animals. The endpapers are a gorgeous map of Wombat’s meandering and are going to be absolutely fabulous for my new unit with Year 3 looking at fictional maps!

To my mind this is a must have both for those kids who live in this area (which it seems rarely features in children’s books) and also those who never get to put on a jumper!

An absolute cracker of a read aloud with beautiful text and illustrations as well, I highly recommend it for readers of Prep age up to around Year 3 (or beyond!).

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The Wombats at the Zoo – Roland Harvey

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ISBN: 9781743319048
Australian Pub.: October 2014
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children
Subject: Picture books
Suitable for ages: 6-9

RRP:  $24.99

2013 marked the 30th anniversary of Roland Harvey’s first published book and sixty years since he created his first book! Many lucky folk were able to attend his exhibition “Roland Harvey: a Retrospective”.

Roland has long been one of Australia’s favourite illustrators and his long list of published works includes so many popular titles that one would be hard-pressed to ignore their impact on the children and adults with whom they have been shared.

The Wombats at the Zoo is the second in a series created by Roland about a class of quirky children and their teacher. The class is off to the zoo with each child charged with obtaining information about a specific topic and also writing a poem about an animal seen during the outing. Beginning with the wonderful endpapers on which each child is pictured with details about their favourite animal, scariest animal and other little titbits, the reader is immediately drawn into the action and becomes part of the class for the duration.

With very recognisable RH flair, the illustrations are seemingly simple but actually filled with minute details which beg close examination. One can already see the heads bent over, picking out the details such a miniscule pram underwater, baby fish a micro-copy of its parent floating along for a daily ‘walk’  or the orang-utans and meerkats holding up a sign ‘Don’t buy palm oil’.  I particularly love the Aussie animal enclosure with the myriad native birds from spoonbills to brolgas (dancing of course!), herons to (very delightful) pelicans.

As usual there is lots of wordplay “…the longest snake, the Monty python, grows nearly nine metres long. ….” which could easily lead into an activity with your class collecting or inventing collective nouns, creating descriptions of a slightly whacky nature and more.  And of course, both written and visual humour, so typical of Roland’s work, is abundant.

Each ‘Wombat’ has a double page spread featuring their special report and poem with the final  double spread a ‘seek’ page to find all the children as it’s time to go home, with the endpage showing each child with their ‘show-and-tell’ to follow up the excursion.

All in all, like all Roland’s books it is great fun both for independent reading and read-aloud, as well as a very useful springboard to language activities with vigour and humour.

Highly recommended for readers around 6/7 and up.

Hoping to organise a Q&A with Roland in the near future, so stay tuned!