Wednesday 7 September 2011

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A Journey Around Melbourne

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A Journey Around Melbourne by Tania McCartney, illustrated by Kieron Pratt (Ford Street)
PB RRP $16.95
ISBN 9781921665493
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Riley and the Grumpy Wombat is the fourth book in the series about the curious Riley who is always ready for an adventure as he travels over the cities of the world. This time he’s in Melbourne with his panda friend, a koala and two hangers-on. His red plane has taken on the two passengers who search the city and see the sights from the wings of the plane.

Everyone needs a home. So when a grumpy old wombat scuttles into a hole, Riley wants to know why he is cross and if he can help him somehow. He goes in search of the animal and answers.

Riley flies the contraption controlled red plane through the Bourke Street Mall, over Federation Square, past Flinders Street Station, along Southbank, and over St Kilda  Beach where he uses his ‘low frequency robotic burrowing machine’ hoping to discover the grumpy wombat, to no avail. The Royal Botanic Gardens precede Lygon Street followed by the Dandenong Ranges. At the freezing slopes of Mount Hotham Riley nearly loses one of his passengers to the ski slope but he’s snatched in the nick of time.

Heading to the country he searches over the Sovereign Hill goldmines without a sign of the wombat. All that’s left is the Great Ocean Road and a cruise over Phillip Island. A last try on land with his ‘fandangled hifalutin patented doodad’ he searches and searches in new and newer holes.

Turning the plane for home he makes the most amazing discovery!

This is an exceptional production with black and white photographs of all the Melbourne landmarks in the background. The vivid, blood red plane and its passengers are in bright shiny colours illustrated against the grey shaded photos. The front cover has a photograph of Flinders Street Station in the background. Riley with his friends in the plane, and his box of contraptions in sight, are depicted in the foreground. The back cover shows a happy snap in colour of all the six characters.

The contraptions are as interesting as the language. The whole book is entertaining and educational; funny and light-hearted. It is wonderfully planned and illustrated. No disappointments here at all.

With a target audience of 6-10 years old, this series will appeal to adults as well. It is an ideal learning tool as well as a travelling adventure that highlights the sights of Melbourne.


  1. Thank you for the sensational review, Vicki! Warms my heart to know kids will fall into Melbourne and Riley's adventures via the pages of this book. x

  2. Oops - thank you for posting, Vicki - and thank you for the wonderful review Anastasia!

  3. Thanks for dropping by Tania. Kids will love Riley and the Grumpy Wombat. Parents, too!


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