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"Blue Kangaroo belonged to Lily, he was her very own kangaroo".... If you have young children or grandchildren in your life, you may well be familiar with the opening line of all the Blue Kangaroo series by Emma Chichester Clark. The original Blue Kangaroo book tells the story of Lily, Blue Kangaroo and how she realises that, despite receiving lots of other soft toys as presents, it is Blue Kangaroo that she loves most of all. We have a few of the books in the Blue Kangaroo series now as my little girl loves them. The one that is most popular at the moment is "Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo?"
* The Story *
If you have young children who have a beloved favourite toy (in our case it is a much loved, once-white Jellycat rabbit called Bun-Bun), you probably know that given the choice, a child will take their favourite toy everywhere. And, you probably also know, that as a parent you would prefer the favourite toy to stay safely back at home, tucked up in bed, waiting for your little one to return. After all, losing the one special toy that they can't sleep without would be a disaster! In "Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo', Lily takes Blue Kangaroo out on a succession of day trips - first she leaves him at the top of the slide in the park, then she leaves him on the bus and finally, she takes him on a trip to the zoo. While she is distracted buying nuts to feed the monkeys, Blue Kangaroo ends up in the pouch of a real kangaroo and only the zookeeper can get him back. Fortunately, Blue Kangaroo is a very intelligent toy and, when he hears the terrifying words 'we're going to the seaside tomorrow', he decides that it is time to take action. He creeps out of bed, in the middle of the night, and hides - the next morning, Lily can't find him anywhere and is distraught. When she finally tracks him down, she realises that she should be more careful and promises never to let Blue Kangaroo out of her sight ever again.
* The Illustrations *
The Blue Kangaroo books are illustrated in a way which really portrays the character of Lily, Blue Kangaroo and their family and friends. Lily is a typical little girl with slightly messy hair, a big bow and lots of personality. Her personality is beautifully depicted in the illustrations - a smile when things are going well, a bigger smile when she gets excited and a look of complete terror each time she realises that she has lost Blue Kangaroo. Blue Kangaroo is also given a personality through the illustrations - mostly he is 'just' a soft toy (although obviously so much more than that to Lily') but sometimes his eyes open wide, or his head tilts in a particular way, and he is bought to life. I also like the way that other characters from previous books in the series are bought into this story, both through the words and the illustrations. There is a page where the whole family are searching the garden for the missing Blue Kangaroo and, piled up on a picnic rug, are all the toys rejected by Lily and given to her baby brother at the end of the first Blue Kangaroo book when the realisation that it is only Blue Kangaroo that she needs finally dawns on her. My little girl loves looking at the pictures in this book and talking about them - the scenarios are all things that she can relate to as she loves going to the park, on the bus and to the zoo - and this definitely adds to her enjoyment of the story.
* Price and Purchasing *
Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo is currently available on Amazon for £4.49 in paperback (this is the edition we have), although the official RRP is £5.99. It should also be available in most good bookshops.
* Final Thoughts *
The Blue Kangaroo series is very popular with my little girl and this is definitely one of her favourites. It is a book that we enjoy reading together at bedtime, and she never fails to look worried when Blue Kangaroo disappears, even though she knows by now that it will all be alright in the end. I think it is a lovely story for all children, especially those who have an attachment to one particular toy, as it is gentle yet involving, and features scenarios that most little ones can relate to. In our house, it has stimulated lots of discussions about how you shouldn't take your favourite toys out, just in case they get lost - unfortunately my daughter can't quite get her head round this applying to 'her' toys as well as Blue Kangaroo as I still find her Bunny stashed in her scooter bag at times, but she is definitely getting better. In my opinion, 'Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo' has the perfect ingredients for a bedtime story to snuggle up and read together - warmth, familiarity, a little bit of drama and, ultimately, a happy ending.
Lily loves her Blue Kangaroo very much. So much that she takes him everywhere with her. But Lily is also a typical little girl and she keeps leaving the poor Kangaroo everywhere: on the top of the slide in the play park, on the bus seat and eventually, in the episode that Blue Kangaroo finds most terrifying of all, on a zoo bench from which a monkey snatches it. Kangaroo loves Lily very much, but he doesn't want to be lost for ever, and thus, when excited Lily tells him that they are going to the seaside tomorrow, he decides to sneak out of her bed and hide.
Emma Chichester-Clark is a deservedly popular author and illustrator of picture books and two of her series (Blue Kangaroo and Melrose and Croc) are beloved of patents and children alike. The good people at HarperCollins are reissuing what is possibly one of the best Blue Kangaroo books Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo?.
The text is very natural, simple and not only easy but enjoyable to read aloud. The illustrations are colourful and vivid, in an instantly recognisable style, with enough detail to engage and hold interest, charming but not insufferably cute.
I love the Blue Kangaroo stories and so do both of my children. The younger one who is now almost three years old is as fascinated by Lily's antics as the older one was when she was three or four.
Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo? is perfectly pitched at around three year old level: the situations would be recognisable to any older toddler or preschooler (and most parents would recall instances of the whole family searching for the little one's favourite cuddly toy). Lily is a very realistic three year old too: impulsive, forgetful, eager to explore the world and engage with it. The world Lily inhabits and people that populate are friendly and cheerful (although Lily's mother looks rather haggard), decidedly white urban middle-class, but it doesn't really matter as the situations depicted will be relevant to many children.
The touch of magic lifts Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo? from the mundaneness of other 'real life' picture books, and is certain to appeal to little children: inanimate objects (and particularly cuddly animals) are frequently anthropomorphised and magic has a touchable reality at this age. Blue Kangaroo is more than just a metaphorical friend.
The moral is simple, accessible but not preachy, and I have referred to Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo? when trying to explain the importance of looking after your precious belongings.
Highly recommended for all children aged approximately 2 to 4.
This review was originally written for the BookBag.
Where Are You, Blue Kangaroo? By Emma Chichester Clark
I have already reviewed some of this series, but this is another favourite about Lily and her Blue Kangaroo.
***What's it all about?***
The story opens with what appears to be Lily and Blue Kangaroo playing hide and seek. However, it becomes clear that Blue Kangaroo isn't hiding on purpose; Lily keeps losing him! Lily's friend Florence takes her to the park, she has a lovely time and is about to leave; when she realises she has forgot something! Blue Kangaroo! She finds him on the slide and Florence tells her to be more careful next time.
The next week-end Lily goes shopping with Aunt Jemima and travels by bus. She is in a busy crowd of people when she remembers something - she has left Blue Kangaroo on the bus. Luckily a lady has seen what has happened and chases after them. Lily and her Kangaroo are reunited.
Uncle George then takes Lily to the zoo. Guess what? She leaves him on a bench and Blue Kangaroo is very worried. The monkeys reach down and pick up Blue Kangaroo and play catch with him! They throw him into the kangaroo pen and the park keeper helps to retrieve him, when Lily realises he is lost.
That night Lily tells Blue Kangaroo that they will be going to the seaside the next day. Blue Kangaroo worried and worried and hopped down from the bed...
The next day Lily is getting ready and she can't find Blue Kangaroo anywhere! She is really distresses, calling out 'Where are you, Blue Kangaroo?' She hunts high and low for him and finally finds him - in her dressing gown pocket.
From that day on she vows to never lose him again and wraps him around her waist when she goes out.
This book as with the others, addresses simple issues that children will come across in their day to day life. This book looks at being careless; Lily continually forgets and loses her favourite toy, despite warnings from grown-ups to look after toy.
I also like how the Blue Kangaroo's thoughts are shown. His feelings of being scared at being left behind, teach children about the consequence of their actions. Not only was Lily upset, but so was her toy!
The book gives parents a chance to discuss looking after your belongings and what happens if you don't! There is the usual mix of rhyme, punctuation, speech, adjectives and other rich vocabulary that is so good for young children to be exposed to. The first two lines, are also familiar, they are the same two lines in all the Blue Kangaroo stories.
The illustrations are also lovely, with pastel shades and great expressions on the character's faces - I love the picture when Lily loses her kangaroo at the zoo!
There pages aren't too busy - just a couple of lines on most pages against a white background. I have a niece called Lily and love to buy her these books, they were also written for a young girl called Lily.
Emma Chichester Clark was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. The book is published by Harper Collins.
It is available from Amazon for £4.49 new or 7p used plus £2.75 P&P, at the time of writing and is the perfect addition to any child's library.