Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 11, 2023

Book Giveaway: WOMBATS ARE PRETTY WEIRD: A [Not So] Serious Guide

Abi Cushman has written and illustrated a new book, WOMBATS ARE PRETTY WEIRD, published by Greenwillow Books For Young Readers on May 23rd. Abi will send a copy to one lucky winner in the US.

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Abi.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Wombats might be pretty weird, but they’re pretty awesome, too! Wombats Are Pretty Weird is funny, kid-friendly, and informative, and features sidebars, comic panels,
extensive backmatter, and a map. Acclaimed author-illustrator Abi Cushman’s nonfiction debut contains everything anyone could ever possibly want to know about wombats!
Wombats are elusive, burrowing marsupials. Their teeth never stop growing, they have backward-facing pouches, and they’re the only animal to have cube-shaped poop. And if you
ask their snake friend, Joey, those aren’t the only things that are weird about wombats!

Abi Cushman’s Wombats Are Pretty Weird contains informative, expressive, and funny illustrations, and offers an entertaining blend of narration, sidebars, speech balloons, and
dialogue between Joey the snake and the wombats he meets in the wild. A refreshing departure from traditional informational books, Wombats Are Pretty Weird is a child-friendly guide to understanding the weird and wonderful world of wombats. Features extensive backmatter, including a glossary.


It may seem strange, but a book about an odd Australian marsupial is a book of my heart. Yes, WOMBATS ARE PRETTY WEIRD means a great deal to me personally. And it’s a book that’s been a very long time in the making, even if I didn’t realize it years ago.

Let me rewind a bit to show you how WOMBATS ARE PRETTY WEIRD came together:

1980s: Learning from Donald Duck

When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Disney’s Wonderful World of Knowledge #1: Animals.
Narrated by Donald Duck, this book shared a wealth of information about animals. The text was paired with beautiful photos of wildlife as well as little vignettes of Donald Duck doing funny things. I loved that it mixed in silly fictional characters with the information. This book fostered my curiosity about the natural world and encouraged me to advocate for animals at a young age.

2001: Cube poops??
When I was studying abroad at the University of Melbourne in Australia in 2001, I went on a guided hike in a forest in Victoria. We came across a pile of cube-shaped droppings. The guide told us they were left there by an animal called a wombat, and that they were the only animal in the world to make cube-shaped poop. Well, that strange fact opened up all sorts of questions. How did they make them that shape? Did they have square butts? And at the time, no one knew how they did it! It was a mystery!

2018-2020: I made a book! (sorta)
My obsession with wombats grew years after I left Australia. In 2018, when I was writing and illustrating books (but was still unpublished), I decided to try to make an informational picture book about all the ways wombats were weird. Because as it turned out, it wasn’t just their cube poop that was out of the ordinary. The more digging I did, the more strange facts I found. And I knew I wanted the book to showcase those facts, but also have characters make funny comments about them.
I wanted to evoke the same feeling Kid Abi felt when she read Disney’s Wonderful World of Knowledge. I wanted a book that would wow kids with weird wombat facts while making them laugh all the way through. And I wanted to show kids that being weird, like a wombat, is a wonderful thing because it means you’re unique and interesting.

But of course, making a book, and making a book that is submission-ready for publishers are two different things. And I went through many rounds of revisions on the book dummy with critique partners and my agent. I experimented with making it less of an informational book and more of a fiction story with some facts peppered in. I changed that story from a picture book to a graphic novel. But in the end, it was the original informational picture book version that still felt the strongest to me.

2020-2021: On submission
In late 2020, my agent said it was ready to go out on submission. Virginia Duncan at Greenwillow Books, said she was interested. She asked if I would consider turning it into a
young graphic novel–still informational with characters saying funny things–but broken out into panels and in a smaller, more vertical orientation. I said YES!, and I turned in a 20-page sample. Several months later, Virginia took it to acquisitions, and it was given the greenlight. She made an offer on the original informational picture book plus a second book to come!

2022: Final details and MYSTERY SOLVED!
Although it was a long road, one fantastic benefit of the book taking so long to get polished up and acquired was in that time, scientists FINALLY figured out how wombats make their cube-shaped poop. I had the pleasure of corresponding with one of those scientists to make sure my wording and my illustrations were accurate when I explained the phenomenon in the book.

I also had some wonderful conversations with a volunteer at Epping Forest National Park–one of just two preserves where the critically endangered Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat lives. Only volunteers and government workers are allowed into the park, and this volunteer had captured some photos of the very elusive endangered species. (There are only 300 Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombats living today.) He shared stories about the wombats there, and I was able to purchase the rights to use one of his photos in the backmatter of the book.

Once all the content was polished up, I spent 3.5 months working on final art. It was so fun finally seeing the book come to life in color.

2023: I made a book! (for real this time)
Making WOMBATS ARE PRETTY WEIRD challenged me in new and exciting ways as an author-illustrator. I had to be funny and create engaging characters, but also be really thorough in my research, both for the text and the illustrations. I had to get out of my comfort zone and contact scientists and other experts in the field. But it was all worth it. I am so proud of this book, and I believe kids will laugh and learn as they read it.


Abi Cushman is the author-illustrator of SOAKED!, ANIMALS GO VROOM! and WOMBATS ARE PRETTY WEIRD. She has also worked as a web designer for over 15 years, and runs two popular websites of her own:, a pet rabbit care resource, and, which was named a Great Website for Kids by the American Library Association. In her spare time, Abi enjoys running, playing tennis, and eating nachos. (Yes, at the same time.) She lives on the Connecticut shoreline with her family.

To learn more about Abi and her books, visit her website at If you like secrets, exclusive sneak peeks, wombats, and special giveaways, subscribe to her newsletter.

Abi, thank you for sharing for book and journey with us. This is a very cute non-fiction picture book. Kids will love the fun illustrations and laugh at the funny facts about Wombats; like square poop, baby pouches in the rear of their body, teeth that never stop growing, and strong cartilage butts they use to block predators from entering their burrows. All explained in a fun way. The little snake following the Wombat around was a really cute touch. Teachers and parents will appreciate the glossary and the pictures of various marsupials at the back at book. It is filled with an abundant amount of information children will gobble up while reading WOMBATS ARE PRETTY WEIRD. 

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Sounds like a fun book! I definitely don’t know much about wombats and neither do my kids, but I bet we’d have fun learning together with Abi’s help!


  2. What a cool book! Would love to win a copy. Email subscriber plus tweeted.


  3. Kids and their parents will love this. It’s a great way to learn! And the illustrations look fantastic! Good luck with it

    Kathy- love your daily emails!!!


  4. I love wombats! And I love the alliteration in the title, the illustrations, the story line. I also love that this is non-fiction. Beautiful journey!


  5. Ha, I love how the long road to publication had the side benefit of scientists solving the mystery of square wombat poop in the meantime! Can’t wait to read more.


    • Haha yup, we always have to find that silver lining!


  6. I am an absolute wombat fan and this is a delightful presentation of the weirdly wonderful wombat. Great background of the book journey. Thanks for sharing!


  7. I need to read about wombats. I am woefully ignorant. And Wombats Are Pretty Weird sounds like the perfect way to learn. Can’t wait!


  8. So totally awesome! I mean, square poops. That right there is amazing. And weird. What a hook! Can’t wait to read this. Congrats, Abi!

    I follow by email and tweeted this post. 🙂


  9. I adore this author/illustrator’s illustrations and have enjoyed reading her books. This one also looks fun to read with excellent information. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Pinterest, Facebook, tumblr, and Twitter.


  10. I LOVE getting the scoop behind how books (especially those involving science) come together. They can be a multi-stage odyssey. Thanks for sharing your journey, Abi! I’m a follower, and shared on Twitter. Cheers!


  11. This was just fantastic!!! I adore how Donald Duck helped with this book!!!!


  12. Great post about the road to publication, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to reading this book! (Email subscriber.)


  13. So excited to read this! I am a subscriber and receive your daily emails and I made sure to tweet about this to spread the word. Congrats Abi!


  14. What a fun book! I think wombats are pretty cool and would like to learn more about them. I will be looking for this book. Thanks for the heads up. I subscribe to your blog by email.


  15. What a wonderful book for a great animal!!! Looking forward to pub day!


  16. This books sounds so fun besides educational. I look forward to reading it. Congratulations, Abi!
    I shared on Twitter and subscribe, Kathy.


  17. I Love Abi’s other books. Always beautiful illustrations. Wonderful career. I will share this on FB and Twitter. Plus, I get Kathy’s ezine daily.


  18. Cute illustrations for an elusive species!💕


  19. I’m so looking forward to this book! I love Abi’s illustration style and the topic of her new book is bound to be fascinating.


  20. Thank you Kathy for the post.
    Abi, I wish you good luck with your book. Love the interesting Book Journey and the inclusion of Sidebars. All your books are so very specials!


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