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An Accidental Hero: A Mostly True Wombat Story

An Accidental Hero: A Mostly True Wombat Story

Regular price $18.99 Sale

By Laura Roettiger

When Wombat sees the bushfires raging out of control, she learns that helping those in need of sanctuary in a time of crises provides unexpected rewards. This STEM picture book, written as a newscast, was inspired by true events during the fires that spread through New South Wales in 2019/2020.

International Wombat Day: October 22, 2024 (Hardcover) 

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Kirkus Review: (May 20, 2024)

Roettiger’s illustrated children’s book celebrates a wombat who helps animals displaced by wildfires in Australia.

The story starts as a news report in a television studio featuring a backdrop of Sydney’s cityscape and famous Harbour Bridge, doused in yellow smoke. At the news desk, anchors Koala and Emu comment on the wildfires and how they started: “It’s the driest year on record and left us in a drought. We’ve got temperatures hot enough to melt cars from here to Wagga Wagga.” Kangaroo is at the scene for a special report on Wombat, who, after other animals’ homes were destroyed, offered her home underground as a sanctuary for families of echidnas, rabbits, skinks, and wallabies. Palen’s full-page, muted color illustrations feature whimsical watercolor skies and three-dimensional cartoon-style creatures with detailed pencil-stroke fur and expressive faces. As Wombat tells her story, flashback vignettes depict red, raging flames before transitioning to the safety of the protagonist’s burrow and her many animal guests. The book features an educational section on Australian animals, and an author’s note reveals that rescuers really did discover animals sheltering with wombats during the 2019-20 New South Wales bushfires. Roettiger’s prose is animated and lively, with clear, crisp sentences and a quick, even pace that faithfully mimics traditional TV news. As the book goes on, it skillfully achieves a balance of entertainment and education. Readers will enjoy noticing tiny bilbies donning headsets in the TV studio and Kangaroo’s use of an oven mitt to hold the mic on location; such details are sweetly diverting additions to an already engaging story. There’s also something charming about a story such as this being told by the animals themselves.

An enchanting tale of hope and wonder in the aftermath of disaster."