Reviews /

Wally the World’s Greatest Piano-Playing Wombat

Authored by Ratha Tep
Illustrated by Camilla Pintonato
Published by Princeton Architectural Press

Tagged , , , ,

Wally the World’s Greatest Piano-Playing Wombat: Wally the Wombat is rightly proud of his musical talents. He plays, his heart soars, and he is at peace.

So when he realises there is another wombat who is just as good – and maybe, even better – than him, he does what all reasonable people do, and goes off in a huff.

Anyone who teaches, is a parent, or has simply ever met a child will perfectly recognise the unreasonable response of Wally. How many times have we had to explain that winning isn’t the important thing? That being number one doesn’t matter? That we should be proud of what we can achieve no matter what? It must be in the hundreds. And that’s just me talking to my son.

Wally’s tantrum at not being the best anymore could be the centrepiece of the story – child throws toys out, misses out, learns lesson. But actually, it is his nemesis – Wylie – who steals the show, because he approaches Wally and offers the hand of friendship. Wylie explains that Wally’s skills and efforts enhanced his own playing – healthy competition can improve people. From here, a friendship develops, and enjoyment at playing the piano returns.

There is a gentle humour that subtly supports a serious point of competitiveness and acceptance of the talents of others. This would be a lovely picture book to share in a KS1 assembly, particularly as Camilla Pintonato’s illustrations are so vivid and support the storytelling so well. My son enjoyed it too and is starting to learn that winning isn’t everything!