The Muddle-headed Wombat by Ruth Park is a classic of Australian children's literature. The lovable Wombat tries to behave, but he somehow always gets into trouble, a characteristic with which any child can sympathise.
There was once a muddle-headed wombat sitting in the grass and feeling very lonely. A wombat is a square animal with thick hair like a door-mat, stumpy legs, and no tail to speak of. He has brown eyes and a comfortable, leathery flat nose like a koala. This wombat was lonely because he had no sisters or brothers or aunties or uncles, and besides, he had spent all his pocket money.
"I wish I had a friend," he thought, "a nice, comfy little friend who would fit in my cardigan pocket. A wombat could have lots of adventures with a friend like that."
-- The Muddle-headed Wombat by Ruth Park
Fortunately, Wombat soon meets a fat-tailed, pouched bush mouse who has lost his spectacles. Wombat is good at losing things, so he thinks he'll be good at finding them, too. When the spectacles are found and Mouse puts them on, he complains that Wombat is awfully big and doesn't look very sensible, but the two quickly become inseparable. They soon befriend Tabby, a very vain cat who often suffers from Wombat's muddle-headedness... such as the time Wombat uses a vacuum cleaner on Tabby, and Tabby is sucked inside!
Noela Young's lovely illustrations are reminiscent of Ernest H. Shepard's drawings of Pooh.
This is one of the books that I (as an adult) re-read periodically. It's on a special shelf reserved for things to be rescued first in the event of fire, flood or plague of locusts. (The shelf also includes The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.)
Children (and adults) who fall in love with the characters will be glad to know that they are featured in a series of stories:
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on Holiday
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat in The Treetops
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat at School
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat in The Snow
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on a Rainy Day
- The Muddle Headed Wombat in The Springtime
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on the River
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat and the Bush Band
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat and the Invention
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat on Clean-Up Day
- The Adventures of the Muddle-Headed Wombat
- More Adventures of the Muddle-Headed Wombat
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat is Very Bad
- The Muddle-Headed Wombat Stays at Home
An edition called The Muddle-Headed Wombat
contains The Muddle-Headed Wombat
The Muddle-Headed Wombat on Holiday
The Muddle-Headed Wombat in the Treetops
The Muddle-Headed Wombat at School