Cover image for Wombat goes walkabout
Wombat goes walkabout
Morpurgo, Michael.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Candlewick Press, 2000.

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 32 cm
While looking for his mother, Wombat meets many animals that are not impressed with his talent for digging and thinking, but when a fire approaches, they change their minds.
Reading Level:
AD 210 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.4 0.5 43636.

Reading Counts RC K-2 2.1 2 Quiz: 22204 Guided reading level: L.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

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Wombat loves to dig. One day he digs a deep, deep hole and crawls inside to think. Wombat loves to think. But when he climbs out of his hole, he can't find his mother. He is alone -- though not for long. Wombat soon meets cackling Kookaburra, hopping Wallaby, swinging Possum, scampering Emu, dozing Koala, and hunting Boy. But though he climbs the highest hill, he still can't find his mother.Instead, he spots a fire, leaping from tree to tree. It's up to Wombat, a thinker and a digger, to do what he does best to see himself and the others safely through danger. And in a tender conclusion, his friends use their own gifts for flying and swinging, hopping and scampering, to reunite a worried Wombat with someone very dear.

Author Notes

British author Michael Morpurgo was born in St. Albans, Hertforshire in 1943. He attended the University of London and studied English and French. He became a primary school teacher in Kent for about ten years. He and his wife Clare started a charity called Farms for City Children. They currently own three farms where over 2000 children a year stay for a week and experience the countryside by taking part in purposeful farmwork.

He has published over 100 books and several screenplays. He won the 1995 Whitbread Children's Book Award for The Wreck of the Zanzibar, the 1996 Nestle Smarties Book Prize for The Butterfly Lion, and the 2000 Children's Book Award for Kensuke's Kingdom. Private Peaceful won the 2005 Red House Children's Book Award and the Blue Peter Book of the Year Award. Five of his books have been made into movies and two have been adapted for television. He was named as the third Children's Laureate in May 2003.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. As Wombat wanders through the Australian bush in search of his mother, he encounters a variety of creatures demanding to know who he is and what he can do. "I dig a lot and I think a lot," Wombat replies. Kookaburra, Wallaby, Possum, Emu, Boy, and Koala regard this information disdainfully, demonstrating their own flying, hopping, and jumping with pride. However, when a bush fire comes, it is Wombat's quick thinking and digging that keeps them all safe underground, and it is the other animals' abilities that reunite him with his mother. Morpurgo's prose is spare and poetic, with skillful repetition of words and sounds. Birmingham realistically depicts the animals against full-page impressionistic landscapes; the luminosity of the oversize, pastel art foreshadows the fire's glow. Birmingham also captures the animals' perpetual motion in tiny, rough pencil sketches encircling the text; the figures, made of almost-scribbled lines, are alive and expressive. Watch this charming walkabout walk right off your library shelves. --Amy Brandt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Pencil sketches and naturalistic color art transport readers to the Australian outback in this affecting tale of a wombat who has lost his mother. As he searches for her, he encounters a variety of other creatures, from a kookaburra to a boy. Each asks, "What can you do, Wombat?" His neighbors dismiss his answer ("Not much. I dig a lot and I think a lot") and show off their own skills. But it's Wombat who saves the day when a forest fire threatensDhe digs a hole large enough to shelter them all. In return, his new friends help him find his mother. Morpurgo (previously paired with Birmingham for The Wreck of the Zanzibar) bolsters his story with pleasing repetitions, and his message about the importance of valuing the contributions of each individual in a community comes through clearly but gently. Birmingham's artwork is no less than sublime. Nimbly sketched animal studies adorn the margins of the pages containing text, and alternate with full-page vistas of the bush and its creatures, their softly smudged outlines gilded with light. Avoiding anthropomorphism, Birmingham nevertheless presents the wombat as an altogether winning creature, small and sturdy and determined. Oversize in format (9"x121/2") and suffused with warmth, this picture book opens a window on wildlife Down Under. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2-A picture book that misses the mark. A young wombat searching for his mother in the Australian outback meets a variety of indigenous animals, including a kookaburra, a wallaby, an emu, and a koala. Each creature shows off its unusual abilities, making Wombat feel inadequate since all he can do is dig. However, it is this very skill that rescues all of the animals when fire threatens their habitat. In a happy ending, Wombat and his mother are reunited. The text is repetitive; the dialogue is pretty much the same between Wombat and every animal he encounters. This simplicity works in picture books for very young children, e.g., Bill Martin's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Holt, 1995) and Deborah Guarino's Is Your Mama a Llama (Scholastic, 1989), but this book seems to be aiming for a more sophisticated audience, given its length. The sameness of the text becomes boring and rigid. Birmingham's illustrations are painterly and very moody, and beautiful enough to be framed. However, their sophistication seems overly ambitious for the text.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.