Title: Diary of a Wombat
Author/Illustrator: Jackie French/Bruce Whatley
Publisher/Date: Clarion Books/2002
Genre/Audience: Fiction (or narrative nonfiction?)/Ages 4+
Themes: wombats, Australia, diary format
Opening: "I'm a wombat. I live in Australia. As you can see from my picture, I look a little like a bear, but smaller. I live in a hole in the ground. I come out mostly at night, and during the day I sleep. I eat grass and roots and, of course, the occasional treat..." The diary follows.
Synopsis: From Publishers Weekly- "What, exactly, do wombats do all day? One
enterprising wombat answers that question and a few others in diary form in
French's (No Such Thing) tongue-in-cheek picture book. After explaining his
unique Australian heritage, the star of this volume paints a funny, if rather
dull, picture of his daily routine. "Monday Morning: Slept./Afternoon: Slept./
Evening: Ate grass./ Scratched./ Night: Ate grass." Things begin to perk up,
however, when the wombat discovers its new human neighbors. Before long, the
always-hungry creature is at their door begging for food (preferably carrots or
oats), digging in their garden ("Began new hole in soft dirt") and turning his
neighbors' belongings into scratching posts. Happily, the human family appears
to take the antics of their adopted wild "pet" in stride (though the wombat sees
things a bit differently "Have decided that humans are easily trained and make
quite good pets"). Whatley (the Detective Donut books) appears to relish this
character study; he paints the chocolate-brown wombat in numerous poses and
expressions--rolling, scratching, sleeping, chewing--on an ample white
background. The artist gives the star expressive eyes without anthropomorphizing
her. The often cuddly looking wombat may leave some readers envious of its
languid lifestyle. And those curious about other animals' activities can explore
Diary of a Worm, Ages 4-7." (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Why I Love This Book:
A book written in diary form from the point of view of a wombat is hysterical. The clever illustrations are the link that young children need to infer what the wombat means when he says he "won battle" against a "flat, hairy creature invading my territory" (it was a door mat). This book is creative, unique and, while simple, offers many ways to use it in the classroom.
Writing prompt: Create a diary for a local woodland animal or your own pet!
Grammar: Sentence fragments - What are they? How are they used in this text? When is it "okay" to use them?
Geography: Study Australian animals. Are the habits of the wombat in the text accurate? Are they a nusiance to humans?
Many great activities here: http://classroomliteracyideas.weebly.com/diary-of-a-wombat-by-jacki-french.html
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