Count from one to 10 with some unusual avian creatures (and the titular mammal).
“1 very tired wombat” curls up to sleep in the middle of a left-hand page; a four-line verse describes this on the right-hand page, and two curlews poke their heads into view in the lower-left and upper-right corners. And so the book proceeds, counting “2 curious curlews,” then “3 furtive frogmouths…4 peaceful pigeons” and so on, all the way up to “10 flittering fairy wrens.” In between, there are magpies and galahs and penguins and budgerigars and kookaburras. Such a collection of birds inevitably wakes the wombat, whose enormous sneeze covers several pages and turns the book into a bird countdown from 10 to one. At the end of the day, the exhausted wombat settles back to sleep. An appendix entitled “About the Animals” explains, among other things, that all these birds and the wombat come from Australia. Teml’s verse is forgettable, but her illustrations place beautiful pen-and-ink drawings against delicate pastel washes and capture lots of personality in her creatures. The judicious use of color and white space makes each two-page spread a work of art as well as a visual delight.
Elegant, informative, engaging. (Picture book. 4-8)