Written and Illustrated by Charles Fuge
Sterling Publishing Co, 2005
Little Wombat was looking for apples.
Did You Know? The oldest wombat in history is Patrick the Wombat, who is currently 30 years old.
Platypus introduces himself to Wombat and then jumps into the nearby pond. Wombat is amused and tries to emulate Platypus’s waddle and in doing so, he falls into the pond, where he sinks to the bottom. Platypus pulls him out of the water and offers to teach him how to swim. They work on swim lessons all morning. After a break for lunch and a nap, Little Wombat learns to dog paddle and dive. Rabbit and Koala stop by to see what’s going on and cheer for Wombat when he races Platypus across the pond. Wombat jokes that his name should be ‘Wombatypus.’
Author/illustrator Charles Fuge wrote several books about this character and it’s pretty easy to see why, since wombats are adorable. But this book is really about friendship and kindness. Wombat’s initial reaction to Platypus is to laugh and mimic him, which seems to be done more in childlike wonderment than in mockery, and Platypus is totally nonchalant about it. He comes to Wombat’s rescue immediately and then goes a step further by teaching him how to swim and be safe in the water. It even tucks in a reminder about not swimming right after a heavy meal.
The illustrations are wonderful, with Wombat drawn as a chubby and adorable little guy who is discovering the world around him, while Platypus is exuberantly just enjoying it all. One detail that I really love is all the other minor characters around them in the forms of insects and fish who are observing all their activity. Mr. Fuge gives us a lot to look at in the pictures to go along with the story, which gives us some good examples of how (and why) to make new friends.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that every new friend has something cool to teach you.