Saturday 8 June 2013

What's Wrong with the Wobbegong?

What's Wrong with the Wobbegong? by Phillip Gwynne and Gregory Rogers (Little Hare)
HB RRP $24.95
ISBN 9781921714962
Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

The wobbegong lies on the beach and says nothing. Watching him are a crab, a stingray, a clam, a humpback whale, a sea bird and an octopus who talk and talk about what might be wrong. What makes the wobbegong so quiet and still? Suddenly he gets moving and impresses them all with his swimming skills. The animals chatter that there is nothing wrong with the wobbegong. Finally this is proven without a doubt, without the wobbegong needing to say anything at all.

This is a simple story about the dangers of gossiping or perhaps making incorrect assumptions about others. The text uses repetition and gradually builds up with each character adding its own observation until the moment the wobbegong moves. Following this, the text is reduced by each character, winding down to the final hilarious twist. This is the highlight of the book. 

The illustrations are effective, with deceptively simple line drawings conveying the expression (or in the wobbegong's case, the lack of expression) on each character's face beautifully. Colour is used quite sparingly, mostly for the character's bathers, umbrellas and hats. There are often pages with large patches of white and the sky is shown as orange. Most importantly, the illustrations are funny.

What's Wrong with the Wobbegong? is an Australian picture book suitable for children or parents with a slightly black sense of humour.  

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