Willow the Wombat, by Natalie Jane Parker

Willow decided to explore the basement…His eyes widened and a huge smile spread across his face as suddenly he realised the rusty old lock was gone.

Willow the Wombat is bored. It is another wet day and he knows his mother won’t let him play out in the rain. When he heads down to explore the basement, his boredom soon vanishes. His grandfather’s old trunk is unlocked and inside it are old journals and mementoes. Soon, Willow is reading the journals and reliving some of Grandpa’s adventures.

Willow the Wombat is a beautifully presented book, with illustrations sure to capture the hearts of young readers. It is a large book (30 centimetres square) and, with gold lettering and realistically detailed water and wildlife on the cover, stands out as a book children will want to explore.

Willow’s adventures are interesting and the subtle messages about judging the elderly and about using the imagination are good ones, but it is really Parker’s bright, detailed illustrations which are the making of this book. The details of Willow’s fur and the glint in his eyes make him realistic, even when he’s wearing clothes and each of the different settings is skilfully portrayed and differentiated, giving the various spreads a variety which children will love to explore.

A favourite illustration is the picture of Willow and his friend Eddie Echidna on a rock plateau at sunset. The characters are lit by the setting sun in front of darkened hills and a tiny blue wren observes.

Simply beautiful.

Willow The Wombat, written and illustrated by Natalie Jane Parker
Brolly Books, 2005