Written by Jackie French
Illustrated by Bruce Whatley
What’s more fun than a small, furry animal, especially one that is a bit feisty and confronts animals much larger than it is? It’s doubtful that many first graders in the U.S. have heard of wombats, so this is their opportunity to learn a little about them.
Apparently, wombats sleep, scratch, and eat grass and carrots. This particular wombat has never heard of Christmas, nor encountered a reindeer, and he must compete with the reindeer for his carrots. He takes a nap on Santa’s sleigh and thus ends up traveling with the jolly man and eight not so tiny reindeer. It’s not a problem as long as the carrots keep coming, though. Carrots are everywhere and easy to find with the reindeer’s help. Even the snowman has a carrot – for a nose. And the toucan’s nose – or bill – at least looks like a carrot.
Many of the illustrations are laugh out loud funny. The cover picture, a wombat with a red clown nose and antlers, standing amid gifts and a bag is perfect. The wombat thinks a chimney is a wombat hole and enters eagerly. Then, he needs help getting back up. The picture of the wombat standing nose-to-nose with a polar bear is priceless.
The publisher’s website, www.hmhbooks.com, has many resources for parents and educators. The author’s website, www.jackiefrench.com, has sections called “how to get kids reading” and “farming with wild animals,” both of which could be very helpful for developing reading activities. There’s no doubt a book this funny and easy to follow can increase a reader’s comprehension.