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Rena the dancing wombat

Rena Wombat wanted to be a ballerina. She was tired of being an ordinary wombat and doing all the chores around her burrow.

Rena came from a very big family of five children …..but she was the only girl.

She liked her brothers – but they were lazy. They made Rena do all the work.

“Rena! Make the beds,” they would say each morning.

“Rena! Sweep the burrow,” they would say each afternoon.

“Rena! Get some grass for us to eat,” they would say each evening.

“Rena! Wash the dishes,” they would say after dinner.

But Rena wanted to be a ballerina.

Each night, after her brothers and Mother and Father had gone to bed, Rena would creep from her burrow and waddle to her favourite place – a small clearing in the middle of the Forest.

By the light of the moon and the stars, the crickets would rub their legs together, the frogs would croak, the owls would make their too-woot-too-woo sounds, and Rena would put on her white tu-tu and dance.

All the animals would come to watch. The rabbits, the possums, the bilbys, the echidnas and the field mice.

Even the foxes thought Rena was enchanting.

One night while Rena was dancing, a kangaroo named Kevin hopped by and saw her. He was a talent scout for a Circus, and he was most impressed by her dancing.

He pulled a camera from his pouch, lifted it to his eye and – as Rena danced a pirouette – his camera went “FLASH”!

A Very Bright Light lit up the entire Forest clearing! And it dazzled all the animals…..including Rena herself!

Rena’s friends were scared, and they scampered away, leaving Rena alone and rubbing her eyes.

“What was that!” Rena wondered. Then she noticed that all her friends had gone, and she became scared, too.

Rena quickly took off her tu-tu and hid it in the hollow tree where she always kept it. Then she hurried home, still wondering what the very bright light had been.

For the next two weeks Rena kept doing her chores during day, and dancing in the Forest at night. She had forgotten about the Very Bright Light until she checked the mail box one morning. There was a letter addressed to “Rena Wombat”.

Rena was excited. She had never been sent a letter before.
She opened it and gasped as she read:

Dear Rena Wombat,
Our talent scout, Kevin Kangaroo, has given us a photograph of you dancing in the Forest and I would like to offer you a job with my Circus.
I would like you to come to my Big Tent in the City and be one of our performers.
Yours sincerely
The Ringmaster

That night, instead of dancing, Rena lay in bed thinking and dreaming of the Circus.

Very early the next morning she packed her suitcase, but as she crept from the house one of her lazy brothers called out: “Rena! Where are you going?”
Rena turned and smiled at him.

“I’m going to the Circus to be a ballerina.”

“Who will do the chores?” he asked.

“You and your brothers,” said Rena. “You will have to make the beds, sweep the burrow, collect the grass to eat, and wash the dishes”.

With that, Rena walked away, stopping at the hollow tree in the Forest to collect her tu-tu before bravely waddling to the road and the bus stop.

When the bus came, she boarded it, and sat at the back, watching out of the window as the countryside whizzed by.

Rena thought of the Circus. Would she enjoy it? Would the Circus people like her? Would she still have to do chores? And would they really let her be a ballerina?

As the city came into sight, Rena saw the Circus and its Big Tent in a park. She reached for the “stop” button, pressed it, picked up her case and then stepped onto the footpath when the bus came to a halt.

She watched the bus drive into the distance, carefully crossed the road, and waddled towards the Big Tent.

“I’m Rena Wombat, and the Ringmaster has invited me to come to the Circus to dance,” Rena told a very fat lady at the entrance.

“Then you had better come with me,” said the fat lady.

Rena followed, gazing around the Big Tent as they walked inside. She saw clowns doing somersaults, two performing elephants, a girl walking a tight rope, and juggler juggling plates. She thought it all looked so exciting!

Then she saw the Ringmaster. He was very tall and wore a uniform and top hat, and at first she was frightened. But then the Ringmaster smiled.

“Welcome to my Circus, Rena,” he said, “I hoped you would come. Follow me.”, and I will take you to your very own caravan where you will live.”

Rena followed, and gasped when the Ringmaster stopped outside a brightly colored caravan.

“This is where you will live,” he said.

“It’s so beautiful,” said Rena, as she gazed at the red, yellow and blue caravan.

The Ringmaster opened the door, and invited Rena to step inside.

Rena gasped again! She had her own bed, her own stove, and her own table and chairs! It was like a palace compared to the burrow where she lived with her lazy brothers!

“Now,” said the Ringmaster, “make yourself at home, and then come to the Big Tent so I can see you dance.”

Rena nodded excitedly.

After the Ringmaster left, she lay down, and promptly fell asleep, because she was so tired after the long bus journey.

As she slept she dreamed of dancing in the Forest as all the animals watched her. She had a smile on her face as she also imagined people coming to the Circus to see her, and clapping as she danced.

But suddenly she was woken by a shout.

It was the Ringmaster!

“You lazy wombat!” he shouted at Rena. “I am paying you to dance! Not to sleep! Get up, put on your tu-tu and go to the Big Tent!”

Poor Rena was shocked. She jumped out of bed and dressed, and then quickly waddled to the Big Tent. She saw all the circus performers waiting for her.

Rena felt scared. She trembled, because she could see everyone was watching her.

“Dance,” shouted the Ringmaster.

Rena wondered why the Ringmaster had changed from a being nice man to a nasty man, and she became even more scared.

As she stood alone in the centre of the Big Tent, dressed only in her white tu-tu, the Ringmaster signalled to the Circus band to start playing.

Rena listened to the music, but it was not at all like the music made by the Forest animals.

It was so very different! And so very loud!

She began dancing. But Rena felt clumsy with so many people staring at her. She became tangled in her short legs, and fell over ….. and everyone laughed.

Rena picked herself up, and tried to dance again. But everyone continued laughing.

“The wombat can’t dance,” yelled the juggler.

“The wombat is so funny,” cried a clown.

“The wombat is silly,” shouted the tightrope walker.

Even the elephants blew through their trunks, making very rude and loud noises!

The Ringmaster laughed loudest. “You should be a clown, Rena,” he roared. “Your legs are too short to be a ballerina!”

Poor Rena was so upset that she cried! Tears rolled down her furry cheeks.
She ran back to her caravan, slamming the door. She wanted to be ballerina – not a clown.

Rena threw herself on the bed, and ignored the sound of people knocking and banging on the caravan door.

Eventually the knocking and banging stopped, and Rena lay in the caravan wondering what to do.

She sat on the bed, peeked through the window and saw people starting to arrive for the evening Circus performance.

Rena continued watching. Eventually the Circus grounds looked deserted and she knew everyone was inside the Big Tent. She heard music start, and heard the Ringmaster’s booming voice on the loud speakers.

“I want to go home,” Rena sobbed to herself, and packed her suitcase again.
She opened the door of the caravan, and waddled back to the bus stop as fast as her short legs would carry her. But it was dark, and Rena could see no buses. So she crept under a big bush and went to sleep.

That night, as she shivered in the cold, she again dreamed of dancing for all her Forest friends.

As the sun rose, Rena woke and stretched. She looked across the park to the Big Tent surrounded by the colourful caravans, then smiled. She was going back to the Forest.

Rena picked up her suitcase and waited for the bus. She saw it coming towards her, and waved, jumping up and down excitedly. The bus stopped, and Rena boarded it and sat by a window.

“Goodbye, Circus,” she said, and waved through the window towards the Big Tent.

As the bus approached the Forest, she pressed the “stop” button. When the bus came to a halt and the doors opened, she went down the steps and stood, watching as it pulled away and disappeared into the distance.

Rena gripped her suitcase tightly, and waddled towards her home.

It was mid morning, and Rena saw her lazy brothers playing in the dirt outside the burrow. They looked up as she approached, and one called out, “Rena, get us some grass to eat!”

“Rena,” called another, “Can you please make my bed?”

And Rena smiled.

“No,” she said. “You must all learn to do your own chores. I am going to my bedroom to have a rest because I am tired.”

But that night, as her family was sleeping, Rena waddled to the clearing in the Forest.

All her friends were there…. The crickets rubbing their legs together, the frogs croaking, and the owls making their too-woot-too-woo sounds. The rabbits where there, too, and so were the possums, the bilbys, the echidnas and the field mice.

Even the foxes were there!

And Rena danced for all of them, because she knew she was a ballerina.

END

Rena the dancing wombat

John Mitchell

Kyneton, Australia

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Artist's Description

A children’s story about a dancing wombat.

Artwork Comments

  • Mike Dineen
  • John Mitchell
  • Mike Dineen
  • Mike Dineen
  • John Mitchell
  • Mike Dineen
  • John Mitchell
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