Two weeks ago, I thought it was time for another children’s book and so I chose to read The Wombles by Elisabeth Beresford. Unlike some of you, I don’t have any connection to the book and I never saw the TV series. So this was totally new to me.
Synopsis quoted from Bloomsbury UK¹:
The Wombles is the first ever Wombles book and introduces the stern but kindly Great Uncle Bulgaria; Orinoco, who is particularly fond of his food and a subsequent forty winks; general handyman extraordinaire Tobermory, who can turn almost anything that the Wombles retrieve from Wimbledon Common into something useful; Madame Cholet, who cooks the most delicious and natural foods to keep the Wombles happy and contented; and last but not least, Bungo, one of the youngest and cheekiest Wombles of all, who has much to learn and is due to venture out on to the Common on his own for the very first time . . .
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.