When you combine a great idea for a story, with excellent art work and a clever text, you have the makings of a wonderful Children’s Picture Book. The Snow Wombat is refreshingly Australian, entertaining, humorous and educational. It is an excellent read- aloud text, with predictions made on several pages to involve young readers. Many Australian animals are shown here, to be identified by pointing fingers. We usually associate animal stories in Picture Books set in Australia with the outback, but this one has been set in Alpine regions. It shows how kangaroos, birds and possums live in the snow.
The end pages have been inspired by the journey that Winnie the Pooh made from his home. They show a trail that leads the Wombat from the trees, past the crows and the Stockman’s hut, past the sheep paddock, under the gums, over the riverbank, by the possum’s tail and finally to its burrow. During the reading, one can go back to the end pages and see the progress made by the wombat on his way home.
The wombat now begins his journey and the double page illustrations are detailed enough for a good discussion. Why would a stockman need a hut so far away from everything? The sheep in the paddocks have wonderfully thick, woollen coats, but there isn’t a lot of grass to be seen. Road signs show us various animals that a driver may encounter, possums, wombats and kangaroos. It is unusual to see a kangaroo in the snow. Snow is everywhere, as well as tiny animals tucked away in the illustrations.
The text is in a large font, and lends itself to being read aloud. It leads to predicting the scenario on the following page. Repetition is used to reinforce the concept of snow everywhere, especially on the “Woolybuts” (sheep) and “My Tum”. Snow on the horses and the possums’ tails, indicates nothing is exempt from snowflakes if outside. Each page has about seven or eight words, just enough to tell a little of the story, and the rest is visually told. There are a several feature pages with one huge word, to emphasise a point, or for humorous impact.
As every good story ends with reassurance, this one ends with a very cosy, warm burrow. It is shown to be cleverly tucked into the side of a hill. As Wombat makes its way down the burrow, we see an inside picture of the tunnel angled down to a cosy nest; finally warmth, with a tucked- up, furry animal tightly asleep.
This would be a wonderful book for any young child, but especially those who see Australian animals as living in the desert and Outback. It would also make a splendid gift for young people overseas, who may not associate Australia with Alpine regions. The combination of story, text and illustrations is successful, and complimentary. This will be a much loved inclusion in a young Library.
|Author||Susannah Chambers, illustrated by Mark Jackson|
|Publisher||Allen & Unwin Childrens|
|Distributor||Allen & Unwin|