How to Scratch a Wombat

Where to Find It . . . What to Feed It . . . Why It Sleeps All Day

By Jackie French; Bruce Whatley (Illustrator)
(Clarion Books, Hardcover, 9780618868643, 85pp.)

Publication Date: February 2009

List Price: $16.00*
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Description

What's the best way to scratch a wombat? Well, if it's a wombat that's familiar with humans, says author Jackie French, you rub the bony ridge along its back or behind its ears. And the harder you scratch, the better the wombat likes it. For more than thirty years, Jackie French has lived in the Australian bush, coexisting with wild wombats. In this cross between memoir and natural history, Jackie shares her often hilarious adventures with her wombats neighbors and describes their physiology, history, and habits. Bruce Whatley adds pencil drawings in both comic and realistic styles. It's a book that's perfect for the budding naturalist. It's an easy read. It's full of funny stories. It's science with a heart.




About the Author
Jackie French has written more than 100 books for children and adults, many of them award winners, including her 2003 ALA Notable Book Diary of a Wombat. French loves wombats. In fact, she's had 39 of them! She says that one of the reasons she writes so many books is to pay the carrot bill for the furry creatures. French is a terrible speller (she's dyslexic), but a terrific writer. She lives in Australia with her husband, children, and assorted marsupials.

Bruce Whatley is one of Australia's most highly regarded and talented authors and illustrators for children, both here and internationally. Bruce started his working life in advertising as an art director and illustrator and since then he has created over 60 picture books. Many of his books have won awards both in Australia and overseas, including The Ugliest Dog in the World, Looking for Crabs, Tails from Grandad's Attic and Detective Donut and the Wild Goose Chase.

Bruce has co-written a number of award-winning books with his wife Rosie Smith (Whatley's Quest, Detective Donut and the Wild Goose Chase and Little White Dogs Can't Jump) and his son Ben Smith Whatley (Zoobots).

In 2002 Bruce paired with author Jackie French and illustrated Diary of a Wombat - an iconic picture book that has become an international best-seller with foreign sales to nine territories. Diary of Wombat was the start of an extraordinary artistic collaboration that sparked the publication of Pete the Sheep, Josephine Wants to Dance, Shaggy Gully Times, Baby Wombat's Week, Christmas Wombat and Wombat Goes to School. Plus two delightful books about Queen Victoria, being Queen Victoria's Underpants and Queen Victoria's Christmas.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Bruce's talent is the breadth of his artistic ability, which includes an appealing cartoon style to realistic representations using mediums ranging from coloured pencils, watercolour, acrylic and oils, and more recently, 3D digital software.

And accompanying that talent is an intellectual depth and curiosity that sees Bruce taking on large and complex projects, such as The Beach They Called Gallipoli, which is being co-created with Jackie French and will be published in 2014 to coincide with the centenary of WW1.

In 2008 Bruce completed his PhD titled Left Hand Right Hand: implications of ambidextrous image making. In his thesis Bruce looked at the image making of the non-dominant hand, making the fascinating discovery that in most people the ability to draw lies in the use of the 'other' hand.




Praise For How to Scratch a Wombat

In an equally beguiling companion to their award-winning Diary of a Wombat (2003), French and Whatley collaborate on an introduction to wombats and their behavioras offered through the author's 30+ years of having them as neighbors and caring for injured ones in South New Wales.  After opening with her credentials (I’ve also looked after orphaned baby wombatscuddly, furry creatures that wreck your kitchen and take over your life’), she covers the animals’ ancestry, appearance (hairy brown rocks with legs’), feeding habits, minds (such as they are), relations with humans and life cycle.  Readers will come away understanding that they are wild animals despite their fondness for carrots and a good scratch on the back and that they can be enjoyable to have around so long as one doesn't mind the occasional broken door or bite on the butt.  They are also, as Whatley shows in frequent close-ups and vignettes, impossibly cute.  This shorter version of a 2005 title published Down Under is as irresistible as its subject.”Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review The writer and illustrator of Diary of a Wombat (2003) now offer a genial guide to wombats.  French, who has encountered a fair number of these Australian marsupials in her garden and raised orphaned babies to return to the wild, provides a short history of wombats along with precise information about their physical characteristics, habits, diets, homes, senses, communication, mating, and rearing of young.  Written in first person in an engaging, informal style, the book includes plenty of anecdotes (one amazing wombat used a lever to move a boulder) and practical advice (sing softly when approaching a wombat).  Short, entertaining quizzes in sidebars will grab readers who want to settle questions that probably had not occured to them: Who's the greatest?  You or a wombat?’  Created using pencil, ink, and acrylics, black-and-white illustrations offer appealing portrayals of wombats in action as well as drawings of their paw prints, droppings, skulls, and burrows.  Affectionate, amusing, and informative.”Booklist The book concludes with explanations of how to observe wombats in the wild and the contemporary threats to their habitat. A final summation of What I’ve Learned from Wombats’ provides a deft set of life lessons for youngsters. This is a congenial selection for animal lovers that could also be a fun item for booktalking.”School Library Journal Wildlife and animal lovers will undoubtedly burrow right into thisadults should be prepared for requests for a field trip to the zoo, or to the bush.”The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books  

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