Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book #82: Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French, Illustrated by Bruce Whatley

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Wombats live in Australia, look a little like small bears, and are champion hole diggers. The wombat in this story tells us of her daily activities and discoveries. A family of humans moves in nearby and the wombat sets about training the humans to give her food. She defeats the hairy creature (otherwise known as the door mat) and eventually decides to dig a hole right under the family’s house because humans are “easily trained and make quite good pets.”

The text, written in past tense from the wombat’s perspective, is brief and funny. Many of the words are repeated throughout the story, making this a good story to take turns reading with an early reader. The illustrations, painted with acrylics, are set against a plain white background, which brings the wombats antics into the spotlight. The wombat seems blissfully unaware of the doubtful looks she receives from the wary humans, which makes for some wonderfully wry illustrations.

Use this book as part of a unit or storytime on Australia. National Geographic Kids is a great resource for information on wombats. Make sure to point out that wombats may look like small bears, but they’re actually marsupials, which means they carry their young in pouches. See if the kids can think of any other marsupials, such as kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies. The text does a good job of showing the nocturnal habits of a wombat. This can be used to start a discussion on the difference between diurnal and nocturnal animals.

HarperCollins has created a teachers guide that includes extension ideas for reading, writing, and comprehension. I especially like their idea of creating a map of the wombat’s territory and making a timeline of the wombats adventures, which utilizes the days of the week.

Check out The Diary of a Baby Wombat to see what happens when this wombat has a baby.


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