The snow wombat by Susannah Chambers
Ill. by Mark Jackson. Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760113810
This homage to the High Country in south east Australia shows off the environment, both natural and man-made, its flora and fauna and those who live there. I was struck as I read at the range of indigenous and introduced animals represented in the illustrations, as well as depictions of the way the environment is used.
The story of the wombat and its journey through the snow to its warm, snuggly den makes for exciting reading for younger people, as they are asked to predict the rhyming word which completes each stanza of four short lines. Younger readers will call out the words with gusto, learning that the wombat has a nose, ears and a tum just like them and where they are on its body. The wombat's journey is delightfully shown on maps on the endpapers, and the watercolour illustrations show the many animals that live in the area, along with some stunning renditions of the snow covered eucalypts. Each page is a treat, teaching the reader about this area of Australia not often seen in books, and they will learn to appreciate the lives of the animals and people that live there. We are shown the stations with miles of fencing to keep in the wool covered sheep, the rugged up skiers coming down the mountainside, the alpine signs on the roads warning motorists of kangaroos and wombat, and plenty of other animals looking for shelter from the harsh winds and sleet. This is a charming introduction to an area of Australia which children know little of, learning about wombats along the way with rhyming words to predict as well. And with the animal snuggled up safe and warm at the end, what more can a picture book offer.