Review Blog

Dec 04 2019

The beach wombat by Susannah Chambers

cover image

Illus. by Mark Jackson. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760631857.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Wombats, Australian animals, Beach, National Parks, Wilson's Promontory. This charming tale of a young wombat exploring his environment has instant appeal. Its simple rhyming structure will draw in the readers as they predict the rhyming words and learn the lines with its wonderful use of alliteration adding to the fun.
Sea, sand, sun and smoke figure prominently during the morning as the wombat baby and mother wander along the beach, eventually becoming rain, twilight, starlight and moonlight as evening draws near. Adventure at the beginning and end of each day sees them trying to get the sand out of their fur, running to get the smoke from their eyes, sheltering from the rain with other animals and finally finding a place to rest.
At the national park, we see the interaction between human and animals, as each goes about their activities separately, not intruding on the other, each making use of the environment, although the fire gives a nod to the negative impact of humans. The illustrations are wonderful, showcasing this lovely Australian marsupial in its natural setting. It coexists with others: kangaroos, pygmy possums, crabs, gulls, spiders, frogs and birds, and its day is set against the Australian bush with its scrubby trees, large buttress trees, ferns and coastal rock formations. Readers will enjoy looking at the range of Australian landscapes presented, and thrill when the endpapers reveal a map of the wombats' journey, which they can follow with ease.
Wonderful to read aloud, allowing the listeners to predict the rhyming word, readers will ask for it to be read again and again, poring over the informative illustrations, learning more about their natural environment as they read and look. I love the small touches of humans: a fence post, a plastic shovel, a bucket on the sand, one whole page depicting a family on the beach, but in the main, the beach belongs to the animals.
Fran Knight

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