Saturday, 11 January 2014

Wombat's Birthday Surprise

Wombat's Birthday Surprise by Lachlan Creagh (Lothian/Hachette)
PB RRP $14.99
ISBN: 9780734413932
Reviewed by Hilary Smillie
Picture books about birthday parties are a popular theme for young readers, and this fourth offering by Lachlan Creagh is a colourful romp from beginning to end.
Told in rhyming verse with plenty of humour and action, Wombat's Birthday Surprise buzzes with bold colours and lively illustrations. While Wombat's friends make preparations for the party, Wombat sleeps in his hollow log, and the recurring image of Wombat snoring away in all kinds of amusing sleep positions emphasises the question: Will Wombat wake up in time for his party?
Koala's berry pavlova, goanna's fairy bread, echidna's party pies are just a few of the items the familiar native animals and birds are making for Wombat's surprise birthday party in the bush. To see Echidna rolling out his dough on a rustic table, and old stoves parked under gum trees are other kinds of surprises waiting to be discovered. When all is ready, Wombat's friends can't wake him up. Fortunately, Kangaroo comes up with the solution, and the party begins to swing.

Creagh's use of highlighted nouns and adverbs e.g. birthday, games, party, tizzy, snoring, yawning, adds strength and focus to the storyline and balance between text and pictures. An added bonus is a sheet of birthday wrapping featuring the balloon cluster illustrations of the inside cover pages. Wombat's Birthday Surprise is a fresh and happy little book which is sure to be read over and over again.

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