Children's LiteratureLittle Wombat liked to think and liked to dig. One day after doing both, he went searching for his mother. He met a little boy and several animals in the outback: Kookaburra, Emu, Wallaby, Possum and Koala. Each asked him what he could do. Wombat always answered, " Not much. I dig a lot and I think a lot." Each of the other animals believed his own traits to be superior to Wombat's until a fire broke out in the bush. Young listeners will find the ending both reassuring and satisfying as Wombat discovers the importance of being true to his nature. The illustrations will transport the reader to Australia. Their appeal lies in the muted earth tones of the bush, the engaging expressions of the animals and Birmingham's use of perspective. The rhythm of the text makes this oversize picture book ideal for adult and child to share together. 2000, Candlewick Press, Ages 4 to 8, $16.99. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal - School Library JournalK-Gr 2-A picture book that misses the mark. A young wombat searching for his mother in the Australian outback meets a variety of indigenous animals, including a kookaburra, a wallaby, an emu, and a koala. Each creature shows off its unusual abilities, making Wombat feel inadequate since all he can do is dig. However, it is this very skill that rescues all of the animals when fire threatens their habitat. In a happy ending, Wombat and his mother are reunited. The text is repetitive; the dialogue is pretty much the same between Wombat and every animal he encounters. This simplicity works in picture books for very young children, e.g., Bill Martin's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Holt, 1995) and Deborah Guarino's Is Your Mama a Llama (Scholastic, 1989), but this book seems to be aiming for a more sophisticated audience, given its length. The sameness of the text becomes boring and rigid. Birmingham's illustrations are painterly and very moody, and beautiful enough to be framed. However, their sophistication seems overly ambitious for the text.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Peggy A. SharpThe soft, luminous paintings effectively portray the Australian bush. Using repetition, the text describes the unique abilities of these indigenous animals while reminding readers that everyone has something to contribute.
Kirkus ReviewsBeautiful book design and illustrations drenched in the red-gold light of Australia enhance the warm-hearted story of Wombat. One day Wombat digs a hole and sits in it, thinkingso long that when he comes out, he can't find his mother. He meets Kookaburra, Wallaby, Emu, and even Boy in his search. Each asks him who he is and what he does, and he responds, "I'm Wombat. I dig a lot and I think a lot." No one is very impressed with this: the boy brags that he can jump, run, even hunt; Possum can hang upside down; Emu can run around in circles. But none of them has seen Wombat's mother, so he climbs as high as he can, looking for her. He doesn't find her, but he does see fire coming, and warns the others. They all hide in the hole Wombat dug deep and dark, and are safe until the fire passes, and then all help Wombat find his mother. The deep rhythms and call and response of this story fit a comfortable pattern: Birmingham (The Windhover, 1997) burnishes that with wonderfully detailed full-page images facing the text pages. Energetic grisaille sketches of whatever animal Wombat is talking to usually surround the text. He's an incredibly cute little fellow himself. Besides its undeniable kid appeal, the wombat is the mascot of at least two online library discussion groupsthey are going to love it. (Picture book. 4-8)
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