How to Scratch a Wombat: Where to Find It…What to Feed It…Why It Sleeps All Day by Jackie French

Lynn: Over the years an alarming number of creatures have shared my house. I was hopelessly prone to bringing home orphaned babies, strays and fascinating discoveries to my long-suffering mother. My now-grown sons shared my proclivities and my grandsons look likely to carry on the tradition. Being book lovers we also read everything we could find on animals. (To this day I still reread Gerald Durrell’s wonderful books annually.) I knew the minute I saw a review of How To Scratch a Wombat (Clarion, 2009) that this was a book I had to read. Most of you are familiar with French’s beguiling picture book, Diary of a Wombat (Houghton, 2003) and this is a perfect companion book. French intertwines the fascinating facts about wombats with affectionate anecdotes about her years of observing, rehabilitating and sharing her garden with them. Everything any young naturalist ever wanted to know about wombats is here: anatomy, life cycle, intelligence, diet, habits and even the shape and texture of their poop. French gives us the whole picture though and admits that they have a definite “pong” and are like completely single-minded furry tanks. Where a wombat wants to go – it goes! The book is enlivened with quizzes and Bruce Whatley’s enchanting illustrations. This funny informative book is sure to win the hearts of anyone who reads it.

blog029Cindy: I like animals, but I’m the type to squish a spider and move on rather than carry it 600 yards cupped in my hand to an outdoor exit like I’ve seen Lynn do. I did once spend $60 on a glass tank and heater for my eldest daughter’s great find: a garter snake caught in the wilds of our yard. 3 hours later the snake was missing. Youngest daughter got tired of holding it and set it down on a log in the woods and was surprised it wasn’t still there when her sister wanted it back. And so it goes. But reading about animals? That is fun. I would love to visit Jackie and her wombat friends. This boblog030ok has great possibilities for reading aloud with the antics of these intelligent animals: wombats that can count carrot pieces, play hide and seek, and even use a lever to move a rock! I loved the story of Smudge, the wombat who hated Jackie’s junkyard-find typewriter. Tappa, tappa, bing! The irritated wombat retaliated by leaving droppings on the typewriter keys every night. Whatley’s illustrations make me laugh in places. He really captures the personalities of the wombats. For those readers, like us, who need more wombat stories, be sure to check out Jackie’s website where, among other information, she maintains a blog of running wombat stories.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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