Monday, February 22, 2010

Outback Outing: Wombat Walkabout by Carol Diggory Shields

Early one morning when the sun came out,
Six woolly wombats went walkabout.

They didn't see the dingo with the hungry eye.
"I have a hunch my lunch just walked by."

In Carol Shields' dandy little down-under story-in-rhyme, Wombat Walkabout, it's not hard to see where this story is going!

Hungry carnivore? Plump prey? Uh HUH!

But predicting where the story is going is half the fun. Illustrator Sophie Blackall costumes her woolly wombats and gives them jolly names (Clive, Lee, Jack, Jen, Theodore, and Pru) to set the scene, and then partly conceals the dingo amongst the foliage, providing plenty of fun for listeners to spot the hidden hunter as the story goes along bouncingly in rhyme. Shields uses a familiar plot line, with the rear wombat in the single file expedition disappearing as he or she stops for a closer look at the scenery. Finally the walkabout wanderers are down to two, Jen and Jack:

Two woolly wombats, Jen and Jack,
Thought it awfully quiet so they looked back.
No little wombats? That's no good!
They jumped off the track and hid in the wood.

But the remaining two are resourceful little marsupials who figure out what's going on here, and quickly constructing a concealed deadfall trap with Jen as the delectable decoy on the other side, soon attract the dingo, carrying a suspiciously full and wigglesome swag bag.

"That bloke's got our mates! We've got to get them out!"

CRA--ACK! The dingo goes down and Jen and Jack help their friends out of the bag, and the six woolly wombats are soon gleefully on their walkabout way, this time providentially making use of the buddy system.

Six woolly wombats, good as new!
Walk along together, two by two.

No time for an outing to Australia? Pair this one with Charles Fuge's Where To, Little Wombat? or his latest in the series, Watch Out, Little Wombat! for a double down-under delight.

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