Jackie French AM is an award-winning writer, wombat negotiator, the
2014–2015 Australian Children's Laureate and the 2015 Senior
Australian of the Year. In 2016 Jackie became a Member of the Order
of Australia for her contribution to children's literature and her
advocacy for youth literacy. She is regarded as one of Australia's
most popular children's authors and writes across all genres — from
picture books, history, fantasy, ecology and sci-fi to her much
loved historical fiction for a variety of age groups. ‘A book can
change a child's life. A book can change the world' was the primary
philosophy behind Jackie's two-year term as Laureate.
facebook.com/authorjackiefrench Bruce Whatley is one of Australia's most highly regarded and talented authors and illustrators for children, both here and internationally. Since 1992 Bruce has written and/or illustrated over 90 picture books. In 2002 he paired with author Jackie French and illustrated Diary of a Wombat, which was the start of an extraordinary creative collaboration.
What, exactly, do wombats do all day? One enterprising wombat answers that question and a few others in diary form in French's (No Such Thing) tongue-in-cheek picture book. After explaining his unique Australian heritage, the star of this volume paints a funny, if rather dull, picture of his daily routine. "Monday Morning: Slept./ Afternoon: Slept./ Evening: Ate grass./ Scratched./ Night: Ate grass." Things begin to perk up, however, when the wombat discovers its new human neighbors. Before long, the always-hungry creature is at their door begging for food (preferably carrots or oats), digging in their garden ("Began new hole in soft dirt") and turning his neighbors' belongings into scratching posts. Happily, the human family appears to take the antics of their adopted wild "pet" in stride (though the wombat sees things a bit differently "Have decided that humans are easily trained and make quite good pets"). Whatley (the Detective Donut books) appears to relish this character study; he paints the chocolate-brown wombat in numerous poses and expressions-rolling, scratching, sleeping, chewing-on an ample white background. The artist gives the star expressive eyes without anthropomorphizing her. The often cuddly looking wombat may leave some readers envious of its languid lifestyle. And those curious about other animals' activities can explore Diary of a Worm (reviewed below). Ages 4-7. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
K-Gr 2-Through simple sentences and hilarious yet realistic acrylic illustrations, readers are treated to a week of observations made by a young female wombat who becomes chummy with a human family. The diarist's obsessions with sleep and carrots allow a rest from heavier chuckles over a confrontation with a welcome mat: "Discovered flat, hairy creature invading my territory. Fought major battle with flat, hairy creature. Won battle. Neighbors should be pleased. Demanded a reward." French's text, in Kid's Stuff Plain font, also indirectly informs on habitat and wombats' nocturnal lifestyle. Whatley gives a sublime balance of the adorable charm of the creature, along with its drawbacks as an acquaintance. This title will team nicely with Margaret Spurling's Bilby Moon (Kane/Miller, 2001) for studies of Australian wildlife.-Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.