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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
The Wombles
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 November 2016
I've just read this aloud to my seven-year-old son, and he wants the rest of the series, of which this is the first book. Reading age 8+ years.

The Wombles are like a furry hippie commune. They are vegetarian, never lie, share all their possessions with each other, and aim for total self-sufficiency by living off the rubbish they collect and recycle and the natural foods they find (nettles, mushrooms etc.) from their home: London's Wimbledon Common. Very 1960s. They choose their names from an atlas of the world, and this first book involves the adventures of three of the Wombles who have just reached adulthood and started working: boisterous Bungo, greedy and sleepy Orinoco, and athletic but not too bright Tomsk. We're introduced to about nine months of their life as they are chased by dogs, blown up into the sky by large umbrellas, save the Womble burrow from landslides, and survive a harsh winter of snow and food shortages, but still find time to learn golf and skiing, and have splendid parties at Christmas and Midsummer Eve. They are frequently astonished by Human Beings, and Ms Beresford makes some very amusing observations about our own species via their comments.

Great Uncle Bulgaria, the oldest Womble is in charge; Tobermory runs the workshop and the litter patrols, and Madame Cholet runs the kitchens. The gender roles do have a little fluidity over the course of the books. In this first one, Orinoco has a trial week in the kitchens (which he fails), so there could have been a male chef in the making, and the young female Womble Alderney is there to train as a skilled cook. In later books, we are introduced to Miss Adelaide, who runs the Wombles school and is in charge of academia in general, and Shansi, a young female Womble who joins the litter patrol and then becomes the burrow's resident artist.

Once my son had grasped that Wombles don't actually exist ("Uhhhh!"), he became very involved in the story, because though it is a fantasy, it is a very down-to-earth and solid fantasy, with lots of practical-minded characters who make things and fix things and get problems solved. Tobermory even manages to build a full-size clockwork car from bits found lying around. There isn't a better book in children's literature that promotes the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" messages of today.
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When I was a wee lad I used to watch the Wombles on the tv, and get the books out of the library. Indeed I can quite distinctly remember wanting to live in a burrow. I was surprised and very pleased when I found out the other day that they were being re-issued, this one and The Wandering Wombles this year, and the other four titles next year.

This book I must admit must have made a distinct impression on me because as I was reading it I could remember large parts of it. This was the first book in the series published, way back in 1968 and some of the characters you may not be so familiar with if you only ever saw the tv series, such as the young female Womble, Alderney.

With plans afoot for Midsummer, the Wombles still have to get through the winter, and Christmas. With the burrow in desperate need of repair, and other exploits and adventures there is more than enough to keep a child enthralled, indeed if you remember and grew up with the Wombles like I did there is more than enough to keep an adult reading. With recycling such a big issue these days this book could help foster the habit into your children, as well as teach them about things such as sharing and friendship.

There are some great illustrations here by Nick Price, but they are rather sparse. Even so children will love this tale, and if they are too young to be able to read it properly, then it is something that can easily be read to them. It is great to see that after all this time it hasn't lost any of its original sparkle and magic.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 October 2010
A scruffy, shaggy, slightly overweight, furry creature is riding around part of South London, barely in control of his bicycle. No, not the political memoirs of the incumbent Mayor of London. Better. Far better. It's Orinoco Womble and the gang are back!

Well, I say `back'. This is the original series - and this is the very first book. First published in 1968, Elisabeth Beresford's recycling Wombles could have been written yesterday and are right "on message" for current times, featuring loveable characters whose mischievous adventures make great bed time reading (and kids will enjoy them too!). At last, some sensible person at Bloomsbury has located the originals in Tobermory's workshop and seen fit to do with them what Wombles do best. Recycle them and put them to good use in this newly released series.

Elisabeth Beresford's wonderful creations were staggeringly ahead of their time in many ways. No one really spoke much about recycling back then - but she did. Then of course the great marketing bandwagon went into full swing - again to an extent that is now commonplace but then was little used. There was the wonderfully voiced TV series with Bernard Cribbins, albums with Mike Batt's music (who was the Simon Cowell of the 1970s) and merchandising galore. I know. I had most of it. But none of this would have been possible without the raw material of Elisabeth Beresford's exquisitely charming characters, residing underground on Wimbledon Common, collecting the rubbish "everyday folks" left behind.

There are some surprises. In this first book, Wellington Womble has yet to make an appearance. Long time fans will recall that the Womble who should have gone to Specsavers was one of the gang of four younger Wombles (along with Tomsk, Orinoco and Bungo) In this early book the quartet was completed by a pretty, young female Womble, named Alderney who pushes the tea trolley around the burrow. Poor Alderney - she must feel like the Pete Best of the Wombles. But the biggest surprise was quite how uncannily ahead of her time Beresford really was. Yes, sure the whole recycling thing was brilliantly accurate and poor old Orinoco's problems with obesity are obvious to anyone with a memory of the books or the TV show. But when Great Uncle Bulgaria goes to watch the tennis at Wimbledon with cousin Yellowstone who is visiting from America, the Wombles lament that the game is not what it was because it's all about the serving these days. Once again, can I remind you, this is 1968!

The only slight issue you could possibly have with the books is that there is a degree of gender stereotyping with the divine Madame Cholet consigned to the kitchen and Alderney to serving food to the male workers, but I think we can forgive a slight lack of Womble Women's Lib.

The books are beautifully but sparingly illustrated with Nick Price's line drawings. This first one is split into thirteen chapters all of which are just perfect bedtime reading length. They are also perfect for slightly older children to read alone, but my advice would be to get them for younger children so that you can enjoy them too. Incidentally, a good part of the first book concerns Christmas, so they'd make terrific Christmas presents. They are certainly going on my list to Santa!

With recycling issues now understood by everyone, the time should be right for a full scale Womble revival. These guys should "clean up" again, as it were. No kid should grow up without having the Wombles in their lives.

To paraphrase the only person older than Great Uncle Bulgaria; "keeeeep Wombling". Me? I'm off for forty winks.
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VINE VOICEon 31 August 2012
My memories of The Wombles growing up in the 90's are mainly tied to re-runs on Channel 4 of the 1970's series of the TV show inspired by the books, lovingly narrated by Bernard Cribbins, although I do remember, when I was a bit older - i.e. 7 or 8 years old - reading a few of the books which inspired the series. However I'd never read the first original book until now, and having recently done a module on my degree course about children's literature I felt inspired to revisit a few of my old favourites, and Elisabeth Beresford's loving little creatures who 'make good use of bad rubbish' left behind on Wimbledon Common were one of them.

Although to my great surprise, I found that this first original book is perhaps a lot darker in tone than the TV series. Whether this was done deliberately by the BBC to fit it into it's 5 minute episode slots I don't know - but a lot of the issues and moral ideas it brings up are strong and challenging for it's young readers, giving Great Uncle Bulgaria, Orinoco and pals far greater literary creedence for children then they will probably ever be met with.

They work not only on a good, eco-friendly ethos, but a number of abstract concepts tied into this: honesty (such as when Orinoco admits to looting a crate of pastries all for himself whilst the rest of the burrow is starving in a hard winter), team work (when the rest of the burrow helps Tobermory to replaster damaged foundations) and showing care for others (such as when they invite a lonely old human man to the burrow for their Christmas party). I intend to train to be a primary school teacher within the next year and if I am fortunate enough to teach my own class I will certainly make sure 'The Wombles' will be one of the books I read them for story time at the end of the day.
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on 14 November 2014
(2.5 stars)
The Wombles is set in Wimbledon Common, London where the Wombles live in an elaborate tunnel system beneath the common.

The book is written around Bungo, a young Womble who doesn’t have much personality and whom, to be honest, I don’t think to be very likeable. His friend, if you can call him that, Orinoco is also still young and quite selfish. This behavior fortunately gets better towards the end of the book. Great Uncle Bulgaria and Tobermory, the oldest and wisest of the Wombles, don’t make a very good introduction either. They behave judgmental and downright rude when interacting with the younger Wombles. The only one who seems to be an okay fellow but doesn’t matter much is Tomsk.

Even if you don’t know The Wombles, the first half of the book can be rather boring because it mainly introduces the (predominantly male) characters and, like I’ve said before, I don’t find them very likeable. The second half becomes more interesting as the story evolves. I really like the idea of the Wombles recycling the trash the humans throw away. This is an important message for everyone reading the book. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to keep me glued to the pages. The Wombles is much too serious for my taste and I really miss some wit. I understand that many love The Wombles because they’ve grown up with them, but I just don’t find them very charming.
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on 6 July 2015
I'm of an age that I recall all Wombles sounding like Bernard Cribbins, or occasionally Mike Batt.
Should be made compulsory reading for kids, if only to instil the benefits of recycling. However, since they used rubbish to furnish their burrow it is essentially the same as landfill. We've been duped! People need to question supposedly green policies. I've wombled lots of old electronics and computer stuff in my flat, but does my girlfriend appreciate this? No, she says it all has to go before we start living together.
Despite all this, the Wombles are still great reading for kids of all ages.
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VINE VOICEon 20 September 2012
The Wombles, first published in 1968, are the shy, quiet, truthful creatures who live under Wimbledon Common and tidy up after the humans. Polite and resourceful, they "Make good use of bad rubbish" - with Tobermory being able to turn his hand anything and can make anything.

This first Womble book, follows Bungo, the youngest working Womble as he starts to play is role in the warren. Through the seasons he learns about trust, friendship and the ups and downs of Womble life.

Each chapter of the book stands alone but also builds together to form a story of Womble life, making it the perfect bed time story.

The themes in this book do not get old or feel dated. Great for children to read on their own or be read to.
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on 19 November 2013
My niece started learning to read at an early age, and by the age of five had a reading age of eight or more. Inevitably, the problem arose that the subject matter in many books aimed at eight year olds isn't suitable for younger children, and books for younger children aren't very interesting for advanced younger readers.
Thankfully, The Wombles proved to be the solution. With interesting stories, strong plots and believable and fascinating characters, but without any content unsuitable for a five year old, The Wombles captured her imagination and reawakened her interest in reading. Having read the book myself I can see why.
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on 30 January 2012
As someone who remembers the Wombles the first time around. I was really very excited to find this book (for my kindle)one very late night when I couldn't sleep and just needed something light to read. I choose this book, it took me right back to the times of sitting in front of the TV singing along to the theme tune and remembering each of the Wombles.
This book is fun, light reading, with a little about recycling in the back ground, If I had had this book as a child I am sure I would have read more.
Lets keep Wombling free!
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on 2 December 2013
All these books are great for bedtime reading to our little ones. Each book has a long story with each chapter being a self contained story which is just long enough (or short enough) for reading at bedtime. The chapters are easy to read allowed and have held our twins captivated. Plus you get to re-live all the adventures of our childhood favourite characters.

If any more are published in the series we will buy.
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