Wombat soccer

Wombat Smith: Beijing Breakaway!

A review of Wombat Smith: Beijing Breakaway! by Anne Sautel

Published on July 1, 2007

Wombat Smith: Beijing Breakaway!
Anne Sautel

Lobster Press

For those who have not read the first book in the Wombat Smith series, an introduction to the hero is in order. Wombat is an earnest, sturdy, and likeable young marsupial who has been adopted by a human family. He rides the bus on his own, uses the public library, and has developed a fondness for chocolate cookies, particularly when washed down with a cool glass of powdered marsupial milk, imported from his native Australia.

In Beijing Breakaway! Wombat is invited by his friend Joshua to play in a soccer tournament in China. A soccer novice, he tries hard to play well despite the fact that, for him, his uniform is as long as a dress, and his short limbs do not make him a nimble or successful player. Wishing to fit in, Wombat becomes increasingly conscious of how different he is from the other boys. He is such a … wombat.

What Wombat needs is a little self-confidence. He believes that finding a lost red panda that has wandered away from the Beijing Zoo will bring his soccer team luck, and fortunately he succeeds in finding little Hong Lu in time for the big game. Will the red panda really bring him luck, or will he humiliate himself in the field? In an inspired moment of pure, intuitive wombatness, timid and clumsy Wombat makes a decisive play using his strong rear end to score the winning goal. Take that, Zidane! Only a wombat could have done it.

Young readers will enjoy reading about Wombat’s adventures in China. Along the way, they will learn interesting facts about the country, and even a few words in Mandarin. Wombat Smith is a good travelling companion for young readers: human enough to relate to and wombat enough to provide a few surprises. mRb

Annie Murray is a Montreal librarian.



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