#aww2019 · 2019 Reviews · Australian · children · Picture book

Children’s Book Review: Dippy’s Big Day Out by Jackie French, Bruce Whatley Concept by Ben Smith Whatley

Title: Dippy’s Big Day Outdipp's big day out small

Author: Jackie French, Bruce Whatley Concept by Ben Smith Whatley

Published: January 29th 2019

Publisher: Harper Collins

Pages: 32

Genres:  Children (3+)

RRP: $24.99

Rating: 4 stars


Dippy is a diprotodon, the BIGGEST, friendliest wombat who lived 100,000 years ago.

All Dippy wants is happy friends, a place to sleep and lots to eat.

Who knew that could be such an adventure?

Based on a concept by Ben Smith Whatley and brought to life by the creators of the internationally bestselling Diary of a Wombat, this is a hilarious story of prehistoric daring and chaos set in the fascinating world of ancient Australia megafauna.


Do you know what a diprotodon is? I didn’t until I experienced the wonderful and subtly educative new picture book from Jackie French & Bruce Whatley, taken from the concept by Ben Smith Whatley. The diprotodon, or ‘two forward teeth’, was the largest marsupial known to have ever lived. It became extinct some 50,000 years ago and it is the inspiration for the heart-warming new tale from the latest Jackie French and Bruce Whatley collaboration, Dippy’s Big Day Out.

Jackie French and Bruce Whatley have taken an idea devised by Ben Smith Whatley and  created a brand new children’s picture book based on the imagined life of this astonishing prehistoric animal. A friendly wombat resembling animal, Dippy cares only for a few things. All Dippy seeks in a happy set of friends, a comfortable place to sleep and an abundance of food to eat. In his search for all three of these things, Dippy takes a great adventure, meeting plenty of new friends and encountering some mishaps along the way! Dippy’s Big Day Out comes from self confessed wombat lover Jackie French, and with the able assistance of Bruce Whatley, along with the concept devised by Ben Smith Whatley, prehistoric Australia is reawakened.

I consider myself to be a devoted fan of Australian storyteller extraordinaire Jackie French. I follow Jackie’s social media sites regularly and I am very partial to her wombat posts. I have also enjoyed her previous collaboration efforts with Bruce Whatley, so a new book penned by this winning team drew great appeal. With the enticing tagline of ‘Ice Age meets Diary of a Wombat’ I couldn’t wait to be acquainted with Dippy, the prehistoric wombat.

Dippy is just gorgeous! I fell in love with him from the very first page and I’m sure young readers will too. He is big, cuddly but also clumsy. It was a great walkabout, joining Dippy on his endless search for the things that matter in life – food, shelter and good friends! The spaced out text is just ideal for the early childhood audience of this book. Each word counts and impacts upon the reader. There are opportunities for the audience to engage in some interactive moments with the book. Dramatisation could easily come from re-enacting the scenes of Dippy munching and crunching his food. Oh what fun for our young readers!

‘Why do I make friends so snappy? I just want us to be happy.’

The careful insertion of rhyme into this text adds further appeal. While the illustrations could be used as the perfect discussion point to learn more about Australia’s flora and fauna from the prehistoric era. The illustrations complimented the text perfectly and definitely worked well in the author’s quest to recreate Australia’s prehistoric past.

Dippy himself is a larger than life character, his personality bursts out of the pages of this delightful children’s book. I loved getting to know him and I enjoyed searching for the other hidden prehistoric animals that populate this text. There are some gentle messages on friendship. The added touch of the blue bird that accompanies Dippy on his sojourn was a great addition to this affectionate story.

Join bumbling Dippy and his prehistoric friends as his takes a hilarious trek to find the perfect place to snuggle up tight and rest. Dippy’s Big Day Out is a book for the whole family to read together and enjoy.

Dippy’s Big Day Out by Jackie French, Bruce Whatley with Ben Smith Whatley was published on 29th January 2019 by Harper Collins Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the authors of Dippy’s Big Day Out, Jackie French, visit here and Bruce Whatley visit here.

I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

Dippy’s Big Day Out is book #22 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge 


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