How to Scratch a Wombat: Where to Find It . . . What to Feed It . . . Why It Sleeps All Day

How to Scratch a Wombat: Where to Find It . . . What to Feed It . . . Why It Sleeps All Day

by Jackie French, Bruce Whatley
     
 

What's the best way to scratch a wombat? Well, if it's a wombat that's familiar with humans, says author Jackie French, you rub the bony ridge along its back or behind its ears. And the harder you scratch, the better the wombat likes it. For more than thirty years, Jackie French has lived in the Australian bush, coexisting with wild wombats. In this cross between

Overview


What's the best way to scratch a wombat? Well, if it's a wombat that's familiar with humans, says author Jackie French, you rub the bony ridge along its back or behind its ears. And the harder you scratch, the better the wombat likes it. For more than thirty years, Jackie French has lived in the Australian bush, coexisting with wild wombats. In this cross between memoir and natural history, Jackie shares her often hilarious adventures with her wombats neighbors and describes their physiology, history, and habits. Bruce Whatley adds pencil drawings in both comic and realistic styles. It's a book that's perfect for the budding naturalist. It's an easy read. It's full of funny stories. It's science with a heart.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“In an equally beguiling companion to their award-winning Diary of a Wombat (2003), French and Whatley collaborate on an introduction to wombats and their behavior—as offered through the author's 30+ years of having them as neighbors and caring for injured ones in South New Wales. After opening with her credentials (‘I’ve also looked after orphaned baby wombats—cuddly, furry creatures that wreck your kitchen and take over your life’), she covers the animals’ ancestry, appearance (‘hairy brown rocks with legs’), feeding habits, minds (such as they are), relations with humans and life cycle. Readers will come away understanding that they are wild animals despite their fondness for carrots and a good scratch on the back and that they can be enjoyable to have around so long as one doesn't mind the occasional broken door or bite on the butt. They are also, as Whatley shows in frequent close-ups and vignettes, impossibly cute. This shorter version of a 2005 title published Down Under is as irresistible as its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review

“The writer and illustrator of Diary of a Wombat (2003) now offer a genial guide to wombats. French, who has encountered a fair number of these Australian marsupials in her garden and raised orphaned babies to return to the wild, provides a short history of wombats along with precise information about their physical characteristics, habits, diets, homes, senses, communication, mating, and rearing of young. Written in first person in an engaging, informal style, the book includes plenty of anecdotes (one amazing wombat used a lever to move a boulder) and practical advice (sing softly when approaching a wombat). Short, entertaining quizzes in sidebars will grab readers who want to settle questions that probably had not occured to them: ‘Who's the greatest? You or a wombat?’ Created using pencil, ink, and acrylics, black-and-white illustrations offer appealing portrayals of wombats in action as well as drawings of their paw prints, droppings, skulls, and burrows. Affectionate, amusing, and informative.”—Booklist

“The book concludes with explanations of how to observe wombats in the wild and the contemporary threats to their habitat. A final summation of ‘What I’ve Learned from Wombats’ provides a deft set of life lessons for youngsters. This is a congenial selection for animal lovers that could also be a fun item for booktalking.”—School Library Journal

“Wildlife and animal lovers will undoubtedly burrow right into this—adults should be prepared for requests for a field trip to the zoo, or to the bush.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Publishers Weekly

A nonfiction companion to French and Whatley's more whimsical picture book Diary of Wombat, this book will spread the Australian author's affection for the marsupial critters that populate her backyard and the nearby bush. Between detailed notes about wombat anatomy, behavior and habitat, French weaves in personal anecdotes from her 30-plus years of observing local wombats and caring for orphaned baby wombats ("cuddly, furry creatures that wreck your kitchen and take over your life"). Readers will learn not only about a wombat's teeth but also how one Rikki the Wrestler sank his pearly whites into the author's wrist, thinking it was a game. From the outset, French uses a friendly tone, discussing how wombats have influenced her writing career. Whatley's spot maps, diagrams and realistic b&w pencil sketches further amplify key points. A nifty blend of field notebook and memoir, this volume enlightens readers about the observed species and the human doing the observing. Ages 6-10. (Feb.)

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Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
A good way to learn about nature is from an experienced field guide. The best way to learn about it is from an experienced field guide with a sense of humor. Jackie French clearly is the latter, and her latest book is probably the best book about wombats anywhere. Based on more than 30 years of experience sharing the Australian bush with these native creatures as co-habitant and caregiver, French shares scientific facts (e.g., anatomy, physiology, history, habits) and hilarious anecdotes. Readers will learn the best way to scratch a wombat and they will learn about mating habits. They will find out what to feed an orphaned wombat, and they will learn how to make a wombat-friendly garden fence that will keep out more destructive animals. They will laugh out loud at the antics of the tired wombat mother named Mothball, Pudge who can count, and playful young Lurk. French's story is engaging, entertaining and educational. Read through to the end so you do not miss the six lessons French says she has learned from wombats. Bruce Whatley's pencil drawings are comic and realistic, as appropriate for the accompanying text. Young readers who are curious about the world around them will love this book, but adult readers may be interested, too. It is not to be missed. This is a nonfiction follow-up to the popular picture book Diary of a Wombat. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal

Gr 4-6

French expands the simple introduction found in her picture book Diary of a Wombat (Clarion, 2007) into a longer account, nicely incorporating her experiences observing these animals with information on the wombat's physical characteristics, life cycle, and behavior. Small line drawings capture the creatures' various activities and body parts, and the informal, smoothly flowing narrative will engage readers who have an affinity for wildlife and those who enjoy reading about unusual species. The book concludes with explanations of how to observe wombats in the wild and the contemporary threats to their habitat. A final summation of "What I've Learned from Wombats" provides a deft set of life lessons for youngsters. This is a congenial selection for animal lovers that could also be a fun item for booktalking.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Kirkus Reviews
In an equally beguiling companion to their award-winning Diary of a Wombat (2003), French and Whatley collaborate on an introduction to wombats and their behavior-as observed through the author's 30+ years of having them as neighbors and caring for injured ones in New South Wales. After opening with her credentials ("I've also looked after orphaned baby wombats-cuddly, furry creatures that wreck your kitchen and take over your life"), she covers the animals' ancestry, appearance ("hairy brown rocks with legs"), feeding habits, minds (such as they are), relations with humans and life cycle. Readers will come away understanding that they are wild animals despite their fondness for carrots and a good scratch on the back and that they can be enjoyable to have around so long as one doesn't mind the occasional broken door or bite on the butt. They are also, as Whatley shows in frequent close-ups and vignettes, impossibly cute. This shorter version of a 2005 title published Down Under is as irresistible as its subject. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618868643
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
02/16/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)
Lexile:
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author


Bruce Whatley has been writing and illustrating children’s books for over ten years. His Detective Donut and the Wild Goose Chase (HarperCollins) was among the Koala Awards Top 50. He grew up in England and now lives with his family in Australia.

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