CBR11bingo: I LOVE THIS
What do I love? Wombats! To be fair, I’m partial to animals in general. I even try to coexist peacefully with centipedes, in spite of them giving me massive heebie jeebies. But wombats belong to that incredible group of mammals known as marsupials, of which I’m something of an aficionado.
As my friends and more than a few disinterested strangers know, I volunteer on the weekends as a docent at the Los Angeles Zoo, where I not only educate the public about wildlife and conservation but also teach the incoming docent class about marsupials. So I’m always on the lookout for interesting books about these special critters to help with my fact-finding. The Secret World of Wombats is another entry in my series of Little Free Library finds.
This sweet volume is written by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley, the same duo that produced the popular Diary of a Wombat. French is not only a writer but also a sort of wombat whisperer. She has lived in “the bush” for years (specifically the Araluen Valley, which Wikipedia tells me has a population of 168 as of the 2016 census), where wombats and other critters roam free. She has fostered orphaned wombat and nursed sick ones back to health, always with the purpose of sending them back out to live in the bush. As such, this book is part Wombat 101 and part memoir, as French intersperses her wombat info with personal stories of the wombats she’s known and tended. To some extent, this book is an expanded version of Diary of a Wombat, which I guess just goes to show how accurate the original story is, silliness and all.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t realize this was a children’s book at first, but that wasn’t an issue since I’ve gotten some great animal info from the Zoobooks series also. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t learn more, but like I said, this is sort of Wombat 101 and I’m probably ready for the advanced course. Some interesting things I learned:
- Pongs is Australian slang for a bad stench.
- Baby wombats flip their back legs outside of their momma’s pouch to urinate so as not to get their bedroom all pong-y.
- Wombat mating can look like fighting. For a few days, the male and female might act angry at each other and even bite but eventually the sexual tension takes over and they hook up. Wombats are basically the marsupial equivalent of a “will-they-won’t-they” sitcom couple.
- Wombats can use tools! At least, French claims she has seen it happen twice (in one case a lever, in another case, a box). I haven’t seen any scientific data to back up that claim, but I believe the lady from Australia. She does concede that she only saw this behavior in two wombats in her years of wombat study.
- If you want to get close to a wombat (which isn’t necessarily recommended) you might try singing to them. Their eyesight isn’t great and they don’t like to be startled, so singing or humming will help them know where you are at all times. That way you might approach without spooking them.
- If your first creative writing submission is stained with wombat poop, you might just get noticed by a publisher (again, not necessarily recommended).
- If you want to coexist with wombats, make your house wombat-friendly. This step isn’t necessary if you live in Southern California.
French clearly loves these animals and her life in the wilderness, as she shares joyful and heartbreaking stories about caring for injured and orphaned wombats before they “go bush” again. She writes, “Life is much richer when there are wild animals living their own lives around you. I share my land with wild animals, mostly for myself, because without other species, I would be less.”
And if that isn’t enough to win you over, consider this: wombat poop is square!