Review of ‘The Hairy Nosed-Wombats Find a New Home’
‘The Hairy Nosed-Wombats Find a New Home’
Written by Jackie French. Illustrated by Sue deGennaro.
Publisher: Harper Collins
Age Range: Lower Primary – Middle Primary
Themes: endangered animals; habitat; Australian animals; wombats; threats to native animals; introduced species.
To add this book to your home, school or library collection click on cover images or title links.
‘The Hairy-Nosed Wombats Find a New Home’ has been released just in time to celebrate Hairy-Nosed Wombat Day on May 11, with author and Australia’s Children’s Laureate, Jackie French, donating proceeds from this book to bringing a rare species of wombat back from the brink of extinction. Endorsed by the Wombat Foundation, this is the (almost) true story of some very special wombats which are more endangered than the panda.
The central story is a colourful journey of a group of Northern Hairy-Nosed wombats living in Epping Forest National Park as they seek to find themselves a new home. This story will be much enjoyed by lower primary readers. At this conclusion of this seemingly simple narrative is three full pages of text outlining the true history of the Northern Hairy-Nosed wombats. Slightly older readers (and their very interested teacher librarians – like myself!) can discover more about this endangered animal and what is being done to ensure their survival.
After multiple readings with K – 3 students, I discovered that it was perhaps best to read the true history prior to reading the narrative – in order to give context and a deeper appreciation of the story. With younger students an abridged telling of the true history is sufficient for them to be aware of the plight of the hairy-noses, however, older students very much enjoyed the factual information about this wonderful wombat and we even conducted some further online research.
Jackie French is a true wombat expert and her research for this book is, as with all her books, meticulous. The woman astounds me – her attention to detail is extraordinary and I’m not sure when she sleeps between caring for wildlife, maintaining her amazing garden, researching, writing an extraordinary number of books each year and speaking at functions and schools across the country in her role as our Children’s Laureate. Can I be her when I grow up please? You can read more of my ranting about her greatness here.
Jackie says, The story of the Hairy-noses of Epping teaches us that endangered species can survive, if we care enough to give them a safe place to live. My life has been enormously richer because it has been shared with other species. May your lives be as rich in friendships with many other species, too. Jackie often manages to have a subtle (or not so subtle!) ‘call to action’ for her readers – she inspires her loyal fans to dig deeper, do their own research and be passionate about causes in which they believe.
Sue deGennaro’s illustrations are whimsical and wonderful and give these lovely, lovely creatures’ personality and spunk. Employing watercolour and collage in her artwork, she has dressed each wombat individually (which she discusses at the conclusion of the story) and students will love pouring over the detail in the illustrations.
‘The Hairy-Nosed Wombats Find a New Home’ is a great addition to home, school and library collections – it is surely important that we talk with our young people about lesser-known endangered Australian animals and the steps being taken to save them. The impact a book like this has on a child is unknown in many cases but raising awareness of issues through children’s literature is one my favourite pastimes!
Interestingly, my mother took me to a book launch ten years ago of a book by Jill Morris and Sharon Dye called, ‘The Wombat Who Talked to the Stars’. I even had a mug which was more a piece of artwork, created for the launch. I had not thought of this book for many years but it came flooding back to me as I read ‘The Hairy Nosed-Wombats Find a New Home’, as it was also about the Hairy-noses. Loved books remain with us; beautiful and powerful children’s literature shapes young people into the adults they become. Clearly I am a wombat loving adult.
Schools and the community are invited to celebrate Hairy-Nosed Wombat Day on May 11 by ‘wearing whiskers for wombats’ and raising awareness and funds for these marvellous creatures! More information can be found here.
Another excellent wombat title, also written by Jackie French, is ‘The Secret World of Wombats’ which is the non-fiction companion book to her bestselling modern classic ‘Diary of a Wombat’.
The title and cover of each book takes you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. If you live in the US or would prefer to use Amazon click here. If you live in the UK or would prefer to use Book Depository click here.
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