Saturday, 19 December 2020

Wombat

by Philip Bunting (Scholastic) ISBN 9781760 972370 RRP $17.99 (HB)

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

As suggested by the title, this picture book is about wombats and there is at least one on every page. Using wordplay, the text involves variations of the word wombat, explained by the very funny, and sometimes laugh-out-loud, illustrations. Very few of the words are ‘real’ ones. But by the end of the book you have the feeling it might be nice if they were!

It’s an idea reminiscent of Dr Seuss's One Fish Two Fish or even Mem Fox’s Where is the Green Sheep? involving humorous repetition of words. The book starts with ‘Wombat Twobats Threebats’ then ‘Morebats’. The progression of words follows a sort of order, sometimes using opposites (like ‘Youngbat’ and ‘Oldbat’) but not always (like ‘Plumbat’ and ‘Numbat’ neither of which are even wombats). This variation cleverly adds an element of unexpectedness or surprise. My favourite versions of the wombat words were: Vombat (a green one), Exbat (a dead one) and the Om-nom-nombat (a wombat eating a doughnut).

The rhythm in Wombat works well when read aloud and there’s a strong invitation to the reader to turn the pages to the next quirky word and picture combination. Although most of them seem to be standing on two feet, the animals are very clearly wombats. With their uniformly blank expressions and staring eyes, they often have props to explain them, like a cricket bat or glasses and a guitar.  There is also a theme of flowers on the end pages and scattered amongst the story.

Philip Bunting has produced several books featuring Australian animals, including Mopoke, Koalas Eat Gum Leaves and Kookaburras Love to Laugh. His latest, Wombat is an entertaining picture book suitable for pre-primary aged school children.

 

 

 

 

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