'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 24 May 2024

Review: Wurrtoo

Inspired by stories handed down by the author’s family and ancestors, through word of mouth and classic children’s literature, Wurrtoo, The Wombat Who Fell in Love with the Sky, is an epic adventure.

Fire, destruction, drought, and their effects on Country, are addressed through the personified animals’ point of view.

Nature and the land create stunning backdrops to the travel adventures.

 Lots of wonderful alliteration adds rhythm to the text.

Wurrtoo the hairy-nosed wombat, alone underground for years, is always expanding his burrow on Kangaroo Island. Although nocturnal, he uses daylight to go and picnic at the top of the lighthouse to be close to the Sky, with whom he has fallen in love.

Kuula the Koala lives in the neighbourhood and has never seen Wurrtoo. On a day that he sets out for the lighthouse, he sees a fire burning around Kuula’s tree and manages to put it out and save her life. 

He becomes her hero.

Never having thought of himself as brave, Kuula’s opinion of him dissolves his fears and initiates courage and a sense of worth in him. A close friendship begins.

It is said that magic happens in the Forest of Dreaming on the mainland. That’s Wurrtoo destination. His dream - to climb the highest tree and be close to his love.

They set out with Wurrtoo’s map as a guide, never imagining how their journey will change them both.

Travel takes them through forests, rivers, and along unknown trails. They encounter a kookaburra at Larrikin Lagoon, who gives them the wrong directions. A snake at Snake Lagoon tells them they’re reading the map the wrong way. They meet platypuses, and end up at the ocean of seals.

Finally, they reach Kuula’s Aunty Swan’s place, where they stop for a short visit.

Aunty Swan warns them against using magic to get what they want as it changes the natural course of things in Country.

When they come across Yumati, and almost lose their lives, they realise how much they have come to mean to each other.

Wurrtoo finally admits to himself that the sky is beyond his reach; that it belongs to every living creature. That the possibility of claiming it for his own was a foolish ambition.

Debut writer Tylissa Elisara handles the stories from her Narungga, Kauma and Adnyamathanha heritage with finesse. Collaborating with debut illustrator, Dylan Finney, they have created an amazing sequence of non-stop adventures.

The importance and the power of friendship and trust, is the central stream in a story filled with humour and many interesting asides by the narrator.

Title: Warrtoo
Author: Tylissa Elisara
Illustrator: Dylan Finney
Publisher: Hachette, $19.99
Publication Date: 27 March 2024
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780734421982
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction