Friday, May 25, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday

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:

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.


  1. LOVE the idea of creating a diary from the perspective of another animal. Great writing prompt for kiddos (and grownups)!

  2. Laura I wanted to read this just from the front cover and, like Julie, I think the diary from a different animal's POV is very unique. Love it!

  3. This book sounds wonderful! Love the idea of the diary of such an unlikely diarist as a wombat. And your activities are great, as well. Thank you!

  4. This one sounds funny and sweet! I may have to find it for m resident animal fan. Thank you!

  5. This book sounds hilarious! I don't think I ever read a book about a wombat. I would love to read it! :)

  6. Very cute book and story. Love the Diary idea! Thanks!

  7. That's a unique way to share a story. I think I need to know more about this wombat.

  8. Laura...I'm sure most kids have never heard of a wombat...great choice for PPBF...and I love the activities...the diary is a great will learn a lot from writing it from a different perspective. :)