Curiosity and Bravery: A Suzanne Selfors Book Review

Author Suzanne Selfors raised her son, Walker Ranson, on the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. They loved the action and adventure that came alongside an animal-centered fantasy book, and knew that they too wanted to write something together that shared those same ideals.

They knew that stories with squirrels, mice, rabbits and foxes had been done plenty of times. They were looking for an animal that had yet to play a large role in children’s literature, and thanks to the many hours Selfor has spent watching videos of wombats, Lola Budge was formed.

Lola Budge is the protagonist of Braver: A Wombat’s Tale, a story about a young wombat who takes on the task of saving her family, her neighbors, and ultimately, the entirety of Tassie Island. Lola is both curious and talkative, which is how she finds herself being delivered a cryptic message - T.B. is ready. It clearly has something to do with everyone in the Northern Forest being kidnapped by a Tassie Devil, a predator that their Queen banished many generations ago. Lola takes it upon herself to travel to the golden city of Dore to find the Queen and save everyone she loves.

Along the way, she makes friends, escapes predators and discovers more about her family than she ever bargained for. When Selfors and Ranson began writing the book, however, they very much made up the story as they went.

“We knew that our young wombat would take part in a grand adventure, we knew she'd be crossing her island, meeting lots of other critters and facing danger,” Selfors said. “Some of the characters came from my brain, some from Walker's. I've written over 30 books for young readers and I never outline. So the story reveals itself to me as I go. That's the fun part.”

This was the first time that Selfors was writing with a partner, and it took them a while to find a happy medium of how they wanted the story to go. Selfors wanted more humor; Ranson wanted to go darker. In the end, Selfors would write a chapter focusing on pacing and dialogue before Ranson would add descriptions and action scenes.

At the end of the story, Lola not only saves the city and her loved ones but gets to play a role in the city’s history. Her story of how she persevered and created a change is placed into a new edition of her favorite book, The Tales of Tassie Island.

The story touches on environmental degradation, empathy, bravery and politics of poverty in a way that gets children to question what is right versus what is happening in the current state of the world. The storyline also gets children excited to turn the page and see what Lola and her friends will do next.

Braver: A Wombat’s Tale gives the children’s fantasy genre a take at modern, impactful storytelling. It combines action and adventure with humanity to bring out the best in each character and each reader.