Dippy’s Big Day Out
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
All Dippy wants to do is fill his tummy and find a soft place to sleep. But it seems that that is a bit tricky when you are a diprotodon, a kind of giant wombat the size of a rhinoceros! No matter what he does or where he lies down, it seems Dippy is doomed to be hungry and wide awake. Beds that are nests, snacks that attack, it’s a bit bewildering until…
Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have developed an idea from Ben Smith Whatley and teamed up once again to introduce young readers to the world of megafauna, huge creatures that evolved from the dinosaurs and roamed Australia up until about 50 000 years ago. Not surprisingly, given her well-known love of wombats, Jackie has focused this story on their ancestors, the diprotodon, but even though this initially appears to be a story for the very young, it opens up so many areas to explore that it could be for any age.
Combining minimal text with illustrations that contain so much action, this is a great introduction to the genre of ‘faction” where a fictional story is based on so much fact that the lines are blurred and it becomes an information text as much as a imaginary one, meeting many of the Australian Curriculum outcomes in the process. Whatley has painted a very different Australia to that which we are used to, which has to spark questions about climate change and what happened to these ginormous creatures. And are there lessons we can learn because we no longer have diprotodons in our landscape? Is its descendant, the wombat, likely to follow in its footsteps? Put May 11 aside to celebrate Hairy Nosed Wombat Day as a focus for endangered and extinct species!
Given the fascination that young children have for dinosaurs, it is surprising that there are so few stories, or even resources, about these other prehistoric beasts and so, this is a must-have in any collection.
Excellent teachers’ notes (written by me) exploring the riches of this book are available both on the publishers’ website and their Teachers Hub , demonstrating that what might be considered a book for preschoolers actually has a much wider application, making it a model of its genre..