cover image Wombat Walkabout

Wombat Walkabout

Carol Diggory Shields, , illus. by Sophie Blackall. . Dutton, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-525-47865-2

A read-aloud with an Aussie accent, this bouncy rhyming tale of wandering wombats delivers age-appropriate suspense as well as a countdown. Six roly-poly brown wombats stroll, single file, in a dusty desert: “They didn’t see the dingo with the hungry eye,/ 'I’ve a hunch my lunch just walked on by!’ ” One by one, the wombats bringing up the rear stop “to pick a gum nut” or listen to a kookaburra bird, and the party diminishes (“and then there were five”). Shields (Lunch Money ) does not reveal their fate, and readers will suspect the worst. In sandy watercolor hues, Blackall (Meet Wild Boars ) individuates the plump, bearish wombats via accessories, like a paper hat or string of beads, while the swaggering dingo favors a pipe. She lets the foxy-orange dingo’s pointy ears or long, sinister nose protrude from behind gray rocks and twisted trees; kids will enjoy hunting the villain in her offbeat, detailed spreads.A glossary demystifies the lingo from Oz. Ages 3–5. (Mar.)