on 6 July 2002
My son (age 7) and I both loved this book!
You are quickly familiarised with all the wombles, learning about their different personalities through their own individual battles against pollution.
Tomsk worries about water "Pollu", Orinoco concentrates on smell pollu, the risk of which is getting in the way of regular meals! Bongo wants the glory of a gold medal for cleaning up Hyde Park, while Wellington tries to be so clever that he doesn't realise quite how clever he has been!
Meanwhile the older Wombles all tut-tut and shake their heads and the mysterious O.W. leaves Great Uncle Bulgaria helpful notes. Who is he? This, and many other little mysteries will spur you through this delightful book, taking great pleasure in all the wombles' recycling and in Madame Cholet's delicious (and ingenious) cooking.
The chapters are about right for one a night at bed time but the story is so good I frequently broke the bedtime rules and read 2 or 3 chapters a night.
This was a good book to share but kids over about 8-9 could read it alone.
Bloomsbury have re-issued another tranche of the original Womble books, following the release of the first titles in late 2010. This brings the total to six available titles for you to have a Wombling good time with. And quite frankly, what's not to love here? Any story featuring Elisabeth Beresford's environmentally-minded, charming characters is a delight, for young and old alike.
The Wombles at Work was first published in 1973 and, as with the other re-releases in the series, the book is sparingly illustrated with Nick Price's lovely new line drawings.
The shock here for traditionalists is that the Womble clan have re-located to a new Burrow in Hyde Park (now that's an edition of Location, Location that I'd love to have seen). Perhaps more than any of the other books, which of course always address the issues of wasteful humans and their rubbish, Beresford and her army of Wombles launch a full frontal attack on wider environmental issues. When Tomsk has a nasty turn in the Serpentine, Great Uncle Bulgaria launches a campaign to award a Gold Medal for the Womble that does the most to tackle pollution (or Pollu as the Wombles call it). Tomsk focusses his efforts on the water pollution, Orinoco tackles the problem of emissions from Madame Cholet's cooking (and her indignation that such diving smells can be called pollution), Bungo concentrates on clearing up and dabbles with noise pollution, and Wellington, begins with an experiment in what amounts to genetic modification of plants but ends up addressing plastics pollution. And of course, being the kind things that they are, each gets help from the others at various points.
What is so lovely about these books is that Beresford tells a coherent story with each book. There is always an on-going theme - here the desire of the Wombles to win the coveted Gold Medal - while each chapter (twelve in all - which is nearly two weeks of blissful bedtime stories) is self contained and is a mini-adventure in itself. While I wouldn't change the multi-media Womble-fest of my youth for anything, reading these books again I cannot help but thinking that perhaps all the hype did the quality of the original books a bit of a disservice. They are quite the equal of some of the genuine classics of Children's literature, like Winnie the Pooh and Paddington Bear.
Along the way, Bungo dabbles in the hippy movement and there's a mysterious presence from an unknown Womble that has hints of a cold war spy ring. I haven't yet seen any mention of this from Mr Assange and his WikiLeaks gang.
The Wombles books give you endearing characters, beautifully written books, and a strong environmental message that children are even more aware of today than when they were first written. Don't just buy this book - buy the whole set. But be careful where you leave them, you might find that they have been Wombled away while you aren't looking. Seriously though, you and your children will love these stories like, well, like Orinoco loves Madame Cholet's blackberry and apple pie.