Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wombat's Life: Eat, Sleep and Train Humans

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Wombat's Life: Eat, Sleep and Train Humans

Article excerpt

Byline: Brandy Hilboldt Allport, Times-Union staff writer

In case you aren't familiar with wombats, here are the basics: They live in Australia. They look like small bears. They spend their time digging holes, eating and napping.

Hmmm . . . in my next life . . . Oh, excuse me. Back to the matter at hand, Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French (Clarion Books, $14, ages 5 to 9). As the title indicates, pages chronicle the day-to-day activities of an unnamed female wombat.

Monday

Morning: Slept.

Afternoon: Slept

Evening: Ate grass. Scratched.

Night: Ate grass. Slept.

Tuesday unfolds in a similar manner, but by Wednesday, the wombat notices she has new neighbors, humans. The action picks up considerably, but entries in the wombat's diary remain matter-of-fact, even pedantic.

The belly-laugh humor in the book comes from the contrast between the wombat's activities and the humans' reactions. The humans never speak -- this is the wombat's diary, remember? Readers must look at the illustrations to get "the real picture," if you will. For instance, Found the perfect dustbath, the wombat writes. The drawing shows Mom, Dad and two kids cooking hot dogs in the back yard. Judging from the clouds of red and brown dust the wombat stirs up right in front of the grill and the humans' stricken facial expressions, lunch is not going to be dirt-encrusted hot dogs.

Later in the afternoon, the wombat discovers a flat, hairy creature invading her territory. She fights a battle, shreds the enemy and approaches the humans' door for a reward. The humans, not pictured, but presumably consternated by the tattered remains of their welcome mat, still offer the wombat a carrot.

The wombat continues her exploration of the humans' living area, discovering a scratching post (wrought iron picnic table), a large metal object to bang on when she wants more carrots (trash can) and a second scratching post (a ladder with a can of paint sitting on its shelf). …

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