Sunday 2 January 2011

The Wombles

The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford (Bloomsbury)
ISBN 9781408808375
PB RRP $13.99
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

Forty-two years after they first appeared in print, The Wombles are back to inspire a new generation with their furry form of recycling. This re-release begins with a preface written by Elisabeth Beresford, followed by an additional note from Great Uncle Bulgaria (the patriarch of the burrow of Wombles under Wimbledon Common). Black and white illustrations by Nick Price are scattered throughout the text, further depicting just how cute Wombles are. These stories would be suitable for children aged 8 to 12.

The Wombles have popped up several times over the past few decades. They were also part of a highly successful BBC TV series aired in the 1970s, followed by further series in the 1990s. The cast of characters includes the lazy, over-eating Orinoco, the new kid on the block Bungo, Tomsk, the night watchman and the cook Madam Cholet. Just in case anyone is confused there is a 'Womble's Who's Who' at the back of the book. The Wombles collect 'rubbish' that Human Beings leave behind and take it back to their burrow where it is turned into something useful.

Each chapter contains an adventure of some kind such as finding a concrete mixer to mend the burrow; inviting an elderly Human Being to the Womble Christmas party; and getting free tickets for the tennis (Wimbledon, of course). Children reading this book cannot help but become fond of these little creatures who cannot tell lies or let go of something once they've hung onto it. They will be drawn into the world of the Wombles as they make mistakes and get into scrapes, very much like their readers do every day.  

Elisabeth Beresford died on Christmas Eve 2010 at the age of eighty-four. She leaves behind a legacy of highly enjoyable stories with a strong environmental message that have stood the test of time. 

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