Wombat Underground

A Wildfire Survival Story


By Sarah L. Thomson

Illustrated by Charles Santoso

Formats and Prices




$23.99 CAD




Hardcover $18.99 $23.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around January 11, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Inspired by viral online stories during the 2019-2020 wildfires in Australia featuring wombats 'saving' other animals taking shelter in their burrows, here is a lyrical story about strangers in need of refuge.

Up on the hill, Wallaby licks a puddle’s last drop. Skink slips into the shade. Echidna hides in grass as dry as tinder. Under the hill, Wombat carves out a cave that’s all his own. Then—KABOOM!—lightning strikes.

Written in simple and concise language perfect for a read aloud, award-winning author Sarah L. Thomson invites readers to see through the eyes of a wombat as a fire rages through Australian outback. Nearly 3 billion animals were affected by the Australian wildfires of 2019-2020, and wombats played a crucial part in allowing their homes to transform as safe havens for other animals whose homes were destroyed in the fires. Paired with stunning and richly layered art by Charles Santoso, Wombat Underground teaches us that the time of greatest danger is also the time to open our door to those in the greatest need.

  • “The warmly colored illustrations are splendid, providing realistic depictions of the animals and the landscapes surrounding them…. A charming introduction to creatures native to Australia and a wake-up call to care for our planet.”
    Kirkus Reviews
  • “In this dramatic tale set in Australia, a wombat’s underground burrow shelters other wild animals trying to escape a wildfire…. Thomson builds suspense…. [while] illustrations by Santoso [are] naturalistically rendered and vivid with detail.”
    Publishers Weekly
  • "A gentle and compassionate introduction to an extraordinary group of animals and an increasingly relevant topic."
  • * "In an emotionally strong picture book based on natural science, a wombat generously opens his home to other Australian creatures fleeing from a bushfire."
    Shelf Awareness, starred review
  • “Visually arresting…. The beauty of the wilderness is captured from a variety of perspectives and the details of fire season and its impact are not only told through the narrative but also through informative back matter….Does an admirable job of capturing realistic details along with a ‘hero saves the day’ story.”
    School Library Journal

On Sale
Jan 11, 2022
Page Count
32 pages

Sarah L. Thomson

About the Author

Sarah L. Thomson has written many award-winning fiction and nonfiction picture books and novels for young readers, including Wombat Underground: A Wildfire Survival Story, illustrated by Charles Santoso. The text for Brown is Warm, Black is Bright began when Sarah noticed how many picture books celebrating color fail to mention brown and black—two of the loveliest and most prevalent colors in the world. Sarah lives in Portland, Maine, and her website is http://www.sarahlthomson.com
Keith Mallett is an acclaimed painter, etcher, and ceramic artist who has illustrated numerous children’s books, including When Langston Dances by Kaija Langley, Sing a Song by Kelly Starling Lyons, and Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! by Andrea J. Loney. His work has been exhibited around the world and is in corporate and private collections, and have appeared in magazines, films, and television shows. He lives in San Diego, California, and he invites you to visit his website, http://www.keithmallett.com.

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Charles Santoso

About the Illustrator

Charles Santoso has illustrated several picture books, including The Snurtch and I Don’t Like Koala. He worked at Animal Logic as a concept artist/art director and was involved in various animated feature film and TV commercial projects. Charles Santoso’s work has been exhibited in Sydney and also internationally in North America and France. He currently lives and works in Singapore.

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