Tots To Teens & in beTween - Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French

Title: Diary of a Wombat
Author: Jackie French
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 2002
Format: Hardback/Paperback/Board book
Genre: Picture book, children's book

How I Got It: I bought it

Goodreads Summary: 
Wombats are cuddly-looking, slow-moving Australian animals. Their favorite activities are eating, sleeping, and digging holes. Here, in the words of one unusually articulate wombat, is the tongue-in-cheek account of a busy week; eating, sleeping, digging holes . . . and training its new neighbors, a family of humans, to produce treats on demand. This entertaining book, with its brief, humorous text and hilarious illustrations, will endear the wombat to young children, who may recognize in the determined furry creature some qualities that they share.

I fell in love with Diary of a Wombat when I first started working in elementary libraries. I actually stopped teachers as they walked through and made them it read it (it became a staff favorite). I never liked the way I read this to classes, but it's great one-on-one or in small groups. I always share this book with students and I've made teacher's check it out when they're teaching about diary/journal writing or studying animals. (Really, I'll show up in a classroom, give the teacher the book, explain why it's perfect for them, and tell them they have to use it with their kids.) This is always a hit.

The simple but adorable and funny illustrations wonderfully compliment the story's spare text. And it makes since, wombats don't do much but sleep, eat, and scratch. 

Occasionally they'll take a dust bath (kids loved that) or battle a welcome mat (sorry, 'flat, hairy creature").

Now, that dustbath takes place in front a family barbecuing outside and they look shocked. My students decided that they must have just moved in if they've never noticed the wombat before. It's large and persistent, seems like it would be something hard to miss. Shortly after the dustbath she discovers the welcome mat:

"Discovered flat, hairy creature invading my territory.
Fought major battle with flat, hair creature.
Won the battle. 
Demanded a carrot."

The family gives her a carrot, she loves it, and comes back that night for more carrots. When none are forth coming the wombat chews a hole in the door. Carrots came quickly after that. 

By Thursday the family has been invaded. The wombat knocks over their patio furniture while scratching her back, destroys the trash cans, digs up the garden for a new burrow, knocks over paint cans, and climbs into the car to eat the groceries. the wombat also decides that carrots aren't quite doing the trick, she would now like rolled oats.

"Why would I want carrots when I feel like rolled oats?
Demanded rolled oats instead. Humans failed
to understand my simple request.
Am constantly amazed how dumb humans can be.

Chewed up one pair of boots, three cardboard boxes, 
eleven flowerpots and a garden chair
till they got the message.

Ate rolled oats.
Scratched. Went to sleep."

Eventually the wombat trains the family and decides that humans "make quite good pets". She then digs a new burrow under the house in order to be closer to them. Kids get a huge kick out of humans being good pets.

I cannot tell you how much I love this story. It's so funny, and cute, and it's a great tie in with animal lessons and it's easy to talk about with your child. (Remember, discussing a story is a wonderful way to engage kids in reading, even if they're just explaining what they didn't like about it.) I saw the board book version and snapped it up for my 1 year old's Christmas present.  It is just a great story for kids, so fun, and adorable. You have to read this book.

I LOVE Diary of a Wombat and so will you. Frankly I think you should run out and buy it right now, or at least get it from your library. Right. Now. You will not regret this book.


Rummanah Aasi said...

I'm taking your advice and checking this one out from my library! Thanks for the suggestion. :)

January 21, 2014 at 11:48 AM
Jennifer said...

Don't be surprised if you share it with everyone you encounter. I actually took our board book to the upper school library to show some coworkers and then started giving it to stressed out high schoolers studying between exams.

January 21, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Pen N. InkBlog said...

I want to get it right now. I love Wombats and this sounds great.

January 21, 2014 at 9:44 PM
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April 30, 2014 at 3:09 AM

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