In an emotionally-charged read a possessive Wombat kindly opens its home to those who need it most.
Deep underground, Wombat digs. Above ground, Wallaby nibbles bright green leaves and Echidna listens to the sounds of the wind. Up on the hill under the hot sun, Skink lazes on a rock. The sun beats down relentlessly, scorching the ground, sucking up every last drop of water. And then…KA-BOOM! A spark. Smoke and fire rages across the land. The animals need shelter. A hole in the hill. But will Wombat welcome the newcomers to the safety of his underground home…
Wombat Underground is a drama-filled picture book of wildlife in danger. Taking inspiration from the bushfires and wildfires that ravaged Australia in 2019 - 2020, it dramatically portrays the vulnerability and helplessness of animals when fire sweeps through their habitats. Fire is terrifying and poses real dangers; eyes are stung, paws are blistered and fur is singed.
There is a happy side to this moving and emotional story that comes through not only the actions of the fictional Wombat. During the 2019-2020 wildfires, Wombats unwittingly helped thousands of animals survive the terrible fires as all manner of furry and scaly friends sought refuge together in their underground burrows. A friend in need is most certainly a friend indeed with messages of kindness and offering a helping paw ultimately shining in this survival tale.
Written in minimal and lyrical prose that quickly convey the seriousness of the situation and featuring striking and dramatic visuals that make the life-or-death circumstances painfully clear, readers are left with no doubt as to the plight of the animals. Raw and honest, many children will be emotionally moved by the events that unfold. Whilst some readers may find things a bit too much, the intention is not to frighten but to simply educate and inform with the hope that such events may be fewer in the future.
So many valuable talking points arise; the issues of global warming, what can be done to minimise the threat of bushfires, how animals can be protected from the dangers and what can be done to restore lost habits. The author’s note provides further information on many of these points including bushfires, Australian wildlife and burrows as a safe sanctuary to escape the dangers of fire. A perfect resource for introducing the bushfires to young children.
With huge thanks to Hachette for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 4+.