Friday, March 23, 2007

Inspired after writing about childrens' books yesterday, I rummaged among my shelves and emerged triumphant with a marvellous book bought on a previous trip to Australia: WOMBAT GOES WALKABOUT by Michael Morpurgo, with illustrations by Christian Birmingham. This is a must-have picture book, telling the tale of a baby wombat in search of his mother (the underlying story is that everyone is good at something; even if no-one else thinks much of your talents, just wait and see, your time will come...):
One day Wombat woke up and thought, "I think I'll dig a hole today." Wombat loved digging holes. So off he went and dug a deep, deep hole. He crawled inside and sat there in the cool and the dark and began to think, because Wombat loved thinking too. He thought to himself, "Why is the sky blue? Why am I a wombat and not a kangaroo?"
Needless to say, after much sitting and thinking, Wombat saves the day and along the way the reader meets a cast of Australian animals, beautifully and engagingly illustrated by Birmingham (his pencil sketches around the text are particularly charming).

I happened to glance at the acknowledgements while typing this extract up, and was amazed to find that Jackie French (of my post yesterday describing
JOSEPHINE WANTS TO DANCE) is thanked by Christian Birmingham. One thing leads to another and I just did a quick search online to discover that French has a website with marvellous descriptions of the Australian bush - a current sample from March begins:
It’s rained. And rained.
The first rain sent a flash flood down the gorge, all mud and logs and froth, a wall of water higher than I am and a roar like 1,000 helicopters. The flood went down 10 minutes later ... and the ground was still dry, baked so hard that almost no moisture penetrated.
But then it rained again... and again... thunderstorm after thunderstorm.
I watched a puzzled echidna trying to dig for ants under 3 cm of water, and the lyrebirds dance along the fences. Rosie wallaby has even stopped eating roses, and is just munching grass- lovely soft green stuff that even tempts a blacktail wallaby who likes variety in her diet.
Go and take a look for yourselves; she also shares the real story which inspired
JOSEPHINE WANTS TO DANCE. I think I'm going to have to seek out her DIARY OF A WOMBAT - the real one still lives under her bedroom floor! Hard to resist after finding that out...



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