Absolutely one of my favorite picture books of 2022!
A storm is brewing with a sizzle and a crackle. Up in the sky the clouds are building and in the forest the wind is rising. We all know the feeling of a storm about to break. But down under the ground where the storm is not brewing, wombat is busily digging his/her burrow. It's a labor intensive process with a lot of pushing dirt and slowly getting deeper and deeper into that safe place in the Earth.
While wombat was working down below, lightning struck in the forest above and now animals of all sizes and shapes and colors are searching for a safe place away from the forest fire that is threatening all of them.
Everyone knows the feeling of working hard at something and wanting to take good care of it after you finish so we can understand our wombat when he/she heads up to the fresh air at the opening of the burrow and sees animals fleeing past and stands guard over her/his home.
Here's where a special moment of the magic of this delightful story takes place. At first our wombat has a few teeth to show to any animal who even thinks about coming in the burrow. These are strangers after all. They are not wombats. They are not welcome.
Yep, it's the old being different situation. They don't look like her/him. They don't sound like her/him. And yet....... and yet..... yes, yes, yes, it turns out .. they are all animals. Just animals. They are animals facing danger. What should wombat do? What could wombat do?
This would be a great book to read to a class and then follow up with MY BINDI by Gita Varadarajan or EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS by Joanna Ho or any of the other amazing picture books on diversity that are coming to us these days.
There is a light that is present in the illustrations of this gorgeous story about accepting others and it's a wonderful thing to follow that light to the light inside of wombat....where the empathy and the kindness and the compassion are waiting.....
Inspiration brought to us by wombats of all things. Adventure, empathy, beauty, a disaster- something for every reader.
32 pages 978-0316707060 Ages 4-8
Keywords: wombats, disaster, survival, wildfires, forest fire, animals, danger, sharing, helping others, nature, wildlife, compassion, empathy, refugees, 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old, Social Emotional Learning Curriculum, Science Curriculum, Australia
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Inspired by viral online stories during the 2019-2020 wildfires in Australia featuring wombats 'saving' other animals taking shelter in their burrows, here is a lyrical story about strangers in need of refuge.
Up on the hill, Wallaby licks a puddle’s last drop. Skink slips into the shade. Echidna hides in grass as dry as tinder. Under the hill, Wombat carves out a cave that’s all his own. Then—KABOOM!—lightning strikes.
Written in simple and concise language perfect for a read aloud, award-winning author Sarah L. Thomson invites readers to see through the eyes of a wombat as a fire rages through Australian outback. Nearly 3 billion animals were affected by the Australian wildfires of 2019-2020, and wombats played a crucial part in allowing their homes to transform as safe havens for other animals whose homes were destroyed in the fires. Paired with stunning and richly layered art by Charles Santoso, Wombat Underground teaches us that the time of greatest danger is also the time to open our door to those in the greatest need.---from the publisher