I don’t know about you, but this cold weather has already gotten me in the holiday spirit, so I have chosen to share Wombat Divine, a 1995 Christmas treasure by Mem Fox.
This is a wonderful story of a wombat dreaming of being in the Nativity play at Christmas. He tries out for part after part, but he is not right for any part. He is too heavy to be an angel, too big to be Mary, too sleepy to be Joseph, too clumsy, too shortsighted, too short, until he is completely discouraged and sad. Finally, the animal who beat him out for Mary realizes the role of Baby Jesus has not been cast. The director (a bossy Emu) forgot to cast that part! Wombat is perfect for the job! He gets to be the star of the show and be himself, a too heavy, too big, too short, too clumsy, too shortsighted, too sleepy Wombat.
This sweet Christmas tale incorporates so many beneficial elements for children, starting with the theme of being accepted and appreciated for being oneself. The story embodies this theme so well. The characters, although possibly unfamiliar to American children, demonstrate the life and background of the Australian author Mem Fox so well. The repetition throughout the story of “Wombat! Don’t lost heart. Why not try for a different part?” is fun and engaging for young beginning readers who can begin to follow this pattern and contribute to the reading.
The book is packed with emotion as we experience with Wombat the sadness of not being good enough for so many things, and then the pride of finally getting it right. Although this book could not be read in public schools without causing quite a controversial because of its religious content, it would be a great read for a family at Christmas time!
Reviewed by Olivia Calandro