Rumors abound and cause a lonely welcome for the newest zoo animal.
At a zoo in an unnamed location, a wombat is arriving “all the way from Australia!” When Parrot hears the zookeepers say they must be “very careful” with him, he lets the other animals know, starting with Seal, who interprets Parrot’s announcement as a warning. Seal tells Chameleon, who informs Owl, and the news travels on and on. Soon all the animals are terrified of this wild wombat, whose fictitious traits soon include sharp teeth, wings, fangs, and invisibility. When the adorable, furry wombat does arrive, he asks Parrot if he’s the only animal at the zoo, as none of the animals have stuck around to greet him. Each spread in the chain of gossip features a half-page flap that depicts each animal’s overreaction to the ever more alarming wombat rumors. One terrifying flap flips to reveal a lion’s fiendish snarl and sharp teeth! The book ends with a sign, presumably for the wombat’s area in the zoo, that lists facts about wombats, including their endangered status. Bright, painterly illustrations depict the animals’ exaggerated expressions and hilarious surroundings—an elephant taking a bubble bath, lions sunbathing and grilling hot dogs. The lack of a satisfying resolution leaves readers wanting better treatment for the new wombat, however.
A missed opportunity to debunk hurtful gossip and promote friendship. (Picture book. 5-8)