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WHAT'S UP, MALOO? by Geneviève Godbout


From the Maloo and Friends series

by Geneviève Godbout ; illustrated by Geneviève Godbout

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-7352-6664-3
Publisher: Tundra Books

In her authorial debut, Québecois illustrator Godbout explores depression through the movements of a kangaroo.

At first, the marsupial, clad in a short, yellow jumpsuit, is seen merrily jumping over a cluster of pink flowers. The mood quickly shifts, however, as a gray cloud settles over Maloo’s head. The ’roo’s posture compresses, and then Maloo descends into the dark burrow of a wombat. Even cake doesn’t help restore Maloo’s cheer. Hopping gives way to small steps that are counted aloud, offering a sense of the length of the mood: “Seven steps. Eight steps. Nine steps.” Five pages later, Maloo has reached 1,000. Friends try to help—playing in the water, turning on fans to propel Maloo into the sky. It is only when they launch their pal upward from a blanket that the fog lifts. Soft, warm scenes, rendered in pastels and colored pencil against a spacious white background, create a safe environment to discuss sadness. From the shift to a darker palette, the tree that closes in on creatures, and the serious faces, readers will understand that the protagonist is suffering; the spare text, written from the friends’ perspectives, describes the change in locomotion but allows viewers to identify the emotions. Although the friends are steadfast, three spreads depict Maloo striving in midair alone, suggesting that the individual has a role in healing.

Provides quiet assurance to those who recognize this feeling as well as a model for supporting a friend. (Picture book. 3-6)