The Snow Wombat

Susannah Chambers, illustrated by Mark Jackson
AUD $24.99
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An adventurous young wombat finds his way around a winter landscape before snuggling back into his own cosy burrow.

SHORTLISTED: CBCA Book of the Year, Early Childhood, 2017


Snow on the stockman's hut

Snow on the crows

Snow on the woollybutt

Snow on my NOSE!


It's a big journey through the snow for a little wombat, meeting animals, birds and people along the way...but there's no place like home!

A heartwarming story set in the Australian High Country.

Author bio:

Susannah Chambers is an editor of children's books at Allen & Unwin. She lives in Melbourne, but regularly dreams of the mountains.

Mark Jackson is an illustrator based in Melbourne. He has co-illustrated several books with his wife, Heather Potter, and their work has been featured in several exhibitions. Stuck! written by Charlotte Calder was shortlisted in the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2010, and received a Notable mention in the Picture Book Category, Children's Book Council of Australia Awards, 2010.

Category: Picture books
ISBN: 9781760113810
Awards: Shortlisted CBCA Book of the Year, Early Childhood 2017 AU
Publisher: A&U Children's
Imprint: A & U Children
Pub Date: June 2016
Page Extent: 32
Format: Hard Cover
Age: 3 - 6
Subject: Picture books

Teachers Reviews

Wombat is out on his daily wander through the high country. Everywhere he goes there is snow.

Snow on the stockman’s hut
Snow on the crows
Snow on the woollybutt
Snow on my NOSE!

But in this winter wonderland, there is one place where there is no snow… and that’s where he is headed. But not until he’s savoured the delights on his way, appreciating the sights, smells, tastes and feel of the snow.

How could I resist a beautiful story about my favourite creature exploring the country I live in? Few Australian children have the opportunity to live where snowfalls are a regular event and where our native creatures have to do the best they can to survive so this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce them to an environment that is Australian but so different to their own. Wombat meets some of the high country fauna and flora on his journey, all snow-covered in what is a harsh habitat in the winter months, but which is his home which he loves.

Written in rhyming text with perfect pauses that invite the reader to join it, the story is beautifully illustrated in a palette that is so familiar to me yet so unfamiliar to others. This is not your harsh red and ochre colour scheme of the stereotypical Australian landscape, but the subtle whites, greys and murky greens set against the brightest, bluest sky anywhere. The endpapers have the map of Wombat’s journey which adds another dimension (including consolidating the left-to-right progression of text) and would encourage getting an atlas to see just where this story is set. Some may be surprised to find it is very close to their home!

This story is rich in possibilities for starting investigations. Apart from the obvious of finding out about wombats generally, they could explore the prospects of the endangered Northern Hairy Nose Wombat who has its own special day on May 11 each year headed by Wombat Foundation director Jackie French (http://www.wombatfoundation.com.au/hairy-nosed-day.html). Older readers could be inspired to think about the adaptations made by both wildlife and vegetation to survive in snow country and how it compares to that with which they are more familiar while others may choose to look at climate change and what that might mean for Wombat and his friends, and the high country generally. A sign of a great picture book is its ability to engage readers far beyond its apparent audience, and this is one of those.
Barbara Braxton, Teacher Librarian, NSW

Those of us in tropical Queensland rarely, if ever, get to experience the High Country under its wintery blanket of snow. I was hoping to take Small there these holidays to visit friends, snow and wombats but alas! The expense of plane fares was too much for our budget. At least we will be able to have a vicarious experience as we follow a joyful young wombat gambolling and rolling in a very snowy expanse.

Little ones will love the rhyming text (though I will be interested to see how many will predict that ‘bum’ will rhyme with ‘gums’!) which spreads over pages allowing plenty of opportunity to guess what is coming up next. Although the terrain may be unfamiliar to many children they will readily identify this as an Australian landscape with recognisable road signs and vegetation and animals. The endpapers are a gorgeous map of Wombat’s meandering and are going to be absolutely fabulous for my new unit with Year 3 looking at fictional maps!

To my mind this is a must have both for those kids who live in this area (which it seems rarely features in children’s books) and also those who never get to put on a jumper! An absolute cracker of a read aloud with beautiful text and illustrations as well, I highly recommend it for readers of Prep age up to around Year 3 (or beyond!).
Sue Warren, QLD

The Snow Wombat is a story about an adventurous wombat who is walking through the snow in the Australian High Country on his way home. Readers follow Snow Wombat as he sees a variety of things on his walk such as snowy sheep, kangaroos and skiers enjoying a cold Australian winter.

The beautiful illustrations are what captures your eye when first glancing at this book. The title, The Snow Wombat, piqued my interest, a wombat in the snow? Usually, we see stories of wombats in their burrows in the dry Australian bush. The snowy peaks, fluffy blankets of snow, curious wombat and glimpses of native Australian animals throughout the book add to the beauty of each page. On the inside cover, a map of his journey shows the areas he walked through and the things he saw along the way to his burrow. As the Snow Wombat makes his way through the High Country, the rhyming allows you to guess where the snow lands next on the Wombat.

A wombat in the cold snow is a different take to the usual bush wombat settings, which is bound to catch younger readers' attention. The idea of a wombat walking through snow on his way home will facilitate discussion about different climates of Australia and snowy regions. This book is age appropriate for 3-5 year olds, perfectly fitting in with the Early Years curriculum. Younger children can enjoy the rhyme and reading along with the short sentences that all start with ‘snow’.
The Snow Wombat is perfect for exploring seasons, wombats and what it means to be ‘home’ in the Early Years classroom.
Christina Casperson, Primary school teacher, QLD

The way the story is initially mapped out in illustrations is clever and a great way to revise the story with children to develop oral storytelling or to recapture the places in the story. As a classroom activity, children could draw their own story map of the land they live on or the area they play in their own neighbourhood. The road signs used in the story can lead to discussion of other road signs children have seen, these could also be illustrated or made into posters using recycled cardboard, sides of boxes.

It is interesting for children to see the many animals through the story, both native and feral, that one can encounter in this country. The character of the wombat is portrayed well in the story and the inquisitiveness of the crows. A discussion about animal characteristics in the home and the wild could be a good discussion point in a classroom and for developing characters in story writing and puppet shows.

The coolness of snow. The beauty of snow. The crispness. The fresh air. The tickling cold. And the snug warmth of home… is expressed so artfully in this story

It is such a contrast for children in warm tropical Darwin to see this cool habitat and its inhabitants in the story. Many children living in northern Australia have never seen snow. The Year 1/2 class I read this story to were delighted to guess what the wombat enjoyed, before I turned the pages, and to see the wombat tracks in the snow. In my work with children in northern Australia I teach them to read the tracks in the sand so they know what animals, birds, lizards have here.
Diane Lucas, Part time teacher, Milkwood Steiner School, NT

What a delightful book to read and I was instantly drawn to the cover with the beautiful use of colour. The predominant colours of winter of blue and white are so bright and aptly reflect the landscape and season.

The illustrations are well designed to lead you around the landscape as we follow wombat on his journey through the high country and experience the people and animals he encounters, before he gets back to his warm and safe burrow. A well written book and a delight to read to small children, I loved the simple and repetitive text which would suit early primary readers.

This is a story which could open up many conversations on what happens during winter to our native animals, how they keep warm and what they need to stay safe. As wombat snuggles into his burrow at the end of the book, the concept of “home” can be used in the classroom for many discussions and could be used in the Australian curriculum in the new HASS section. The front inside cover which shows wombat’s journey is well drawn and opens up the concept of mapping which could be used as a teaching tool as well.
Felecia Phillips, Tasmanian eSchool, TAS

What an absolutely charming picture book! The text is told in simple rhyme that flows beautifully from one page to the next. Teachers using this book will be able to involve the children in guessing the rhyme and deciding what comes next. For example, the first pages read:

Snow on the stockman’s hut.
Snow on the crows.
Snow on the woollybutt
Snow on my …

Children will have fun guessing what comes next to rhyme with crows. The next page reveals the answer in large letters of NOSE with suitably cute illustrations. This book with its palette of predominately blue, white and brown is a delight and the wombat is so cute. I especially liked the picture of wombat rolling around with the snow on his TUM. The expressions on the wombat’s face and that of the sheep and possums are very expressive. The last page of this gentle, heart-warming picture book is simply gorgeous. I also liked the end papers with their compass and map of the high country showing where each animal or bird is situated as wombat makes his way home to his burrow.

Teachers will use this book not only to help children identify words that rhyme, but also to lead into lessons about Australian birds and animals and their habitats as well as discussions about climate. It might also be used to lead into drawings and lessons about their own homes.

This is a book children will enjoy hearing and participating in the rhyme. I suspect teachers and parents will also enjoy reading it and looking at the illustrations.
Dale Harcombe, NSW

While the simple, rhyming text may lead some to consider this book only for very young readers, to do so loses a great opportunity for older readers. Visually appealing with its muted colours, the reader opens to a magical alpine map, where X marks the spot and the compass rose is a snowflake. This map gently provides an overview of the story line and the environment. The illustrations are likely to inspire young readers to try their hand at a reproducing their local scenery in a similar style, using delicate colours and strokes. The illustrations may also lead to discussions about the way Australia is generally depicted in comparison to this book, appreciating the blue skies against snow covered mountains, scattered with snow dusted native trees.

It is a delight to see Australian native high country animals in a children’s book. While the tale follows the snow wombat, the inclusion of other alpine animals within the illustrations piques interest in the different animals that live in the area, along with the shelters animals create, be it burrows, dens or nests. It also offers an opportunity to explore how animals may go into hibernation or torpor during colder months and how they find refuge from harsh weather conditions. In examining animals from colder climes, using the icecap pages in Alison Lester’s Imagine alongside this text may interest readers to compare arctic and alpine animals.

Mapping Australia’s alpine regions and examining climate and weather related issues is an obvious progression from reading the text, along with the impact of climate change within the high country. Readers may also wish to visit the Australian Alps National Parks website (https://theaustralianalps.wordpress.com) or research its inclusion on the National Heritage List for a fuller understanding about a beautiful part of Australia. Perhaps we can expect the wombat again in summer?
Jo Lloyd, Home Educator, NSW

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