Wombat Stew, by Marcia K. Vaughan, illustrated by Pamela Lofts

One fine day, on the banks of a billabong, a very clever dingo caught a wombat…
and decided to make…
Wombat stew,
Wombat stew,
Gooey, brewy,
Yummy, chewy,
Wombat stew!

Of course the poor Wombat isn’t very keen to be made into stew, but his clever friends have a sneaky way to help outwit Dingo. Each friend tells Dingo he is missing an essential ingredient for his stew, so soon Dingo is adding mud, feathers, flies, bugs and more. But, when he tastes the stew, he thinks he’s been poisoned and hurries away leaving Wombat and his friends celebrating.

This classic Australian picture book was first launched twenty one years ago and, to celebrate, has just been re-released by Scholastic Australia. The rhythmic text and the repetition of the ‘Wombat Stew’ chant make it very appealing to young readers, who will join in on the first or second read. Pamela Lofts’ illustrations are a delight, with amusing yet somehow lifelike Australian animals peppering the pages. Even the mean Dingo is cute and dopey rather than scarey.

Loads of fun.

Wombat Stew, by Marcia K Vaughan and Pamela Lofts
Scholastic, 2005

The Wombat Who Talked to the Stars

Unlike their cousins, the Southern Hairy-Nosed Wombat and the Common Wombat, the Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat is seriosuly endangered. There are only 113 Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombats living in the wild. In this delightful children’s book Jill Morris explores the plight of these creatures using a combination of fact and fiction.

Presented as a journal from the first person perspective of one the wombats, Male Number 25, the book explores the differences between the Northern Hairy-Nosed and its cousins, its habitat, the events which have led to its near-extinction and what is being done to save it.

Male 25 uses a variety of writing forms in his diary – a poem, charts, diagrams, recount and simple reporting of facts and is ably supported by the illustrations of Sharon Dye, who also uses a variety of techniques, including aged parchment backgrounds, botanical illustrations and full colour spreads.

The Wombat Who Talked to the Stars has won a swag of awards since it was first published in 1997, including the Excellence in Educational Publishing Award (1997), the Best Children’s Book in the Whitely Awards (1997) and a shortlisting for the Eve Pownall Award, 1998.

The Wombat Who Talked to the Stars is excellent nonfiction about a subject that should be important to all Australians.

The Wombat Who Talked to the Stars, by Jill Morris and Sharon Dye
Greater Glider, 1997, reprinted 2004

Wombat Down Below, by Jill Morris

Big Foot the Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat lives alone in his comfortable burrow. He comes out at night to feed and exercise, but is very aware of the dangers he faces oustide. The grasses are drying up and the night is full of predators – dingoes, wild cats and owls.

When Big Foot finds better feed in another feeding ground, he decides to build a new burrow. Night after night he works on this burrow, returning to his old place to sleep each day. Eventually, though, he moves to his new burrow. Here, his greatest moment of danger comes on the night of the full moon, when the bright light exposes him to predators. His quick thinking and the element of surprise help him to overcome the danger.

Wombat Down Below is a fiction story, but it is based on real events in a small national park in central Queensland, where the only remaining colony of Northern Hairy-nosed wombats is found. A double paged spread at the back of the book describes the plight of this critically endangered species, and efforts to ensure their survival.

Author Jill Morris is passionate about Australian wildlife and about educating children (and adults) through her stories. Illustrator Lucy Everitt has provided life-like detail, with a special feature the cross sections showing the inside of the wombat’s burrow.

Wombat Down Below is both an entertaining story book and an outstanding educational aid.

Wombat Down Below, by Jill Morris, illustrated by Luci Everitt
Greater Glider, 2004