A gentle adventure story, with a subtle moral about accepting new siblings without feeling displaced.
Zangadoo Kangaroo feels overshadowed by his little brother Joey, but when he borrows his father’s magical boomerang, he discovers a special talent and some new friends—a colorful group of Australian animals. The great strength of the book is its focus on these animals, with all of the top-billing creatures making appearances—kangaroos, koalas, wombats—but also lesser knowns like budgies and emus. The creative use of Australian slang is also a highlight, with words like “crikey,” “lolly” and “billabong” that will delight younger readers. The book has a glossary in the back that will define Aussie words, which may ignite a further interest in the flora and fauna of Australia. Small details, such as Zangadoo’s mum’s surfing trophies and his dad’s work as a bush pilot, sketch in a picture of an eccentric and loving family that would be fun to visit again. One stumbling point is that while the book suggests that the boomerang is magical, the nature of its power isn’t explored. There is a brief discussion of the boomerang’s history, but more use of it would have made this stronger and livelier for young readers. Also, moments of tension are undercut a little too quickly—Zangadoo’s friends travel to the Outback, seemingly walking there from their small town, and find him almost immediately after the boomerang has whisked him away on a magical journey, and a scene of Zangadoo and his friends being chased by dingoes is resolved after only a page. However, younger readers should enjoy the simplicity of the story, as well as the adorable illustrations.
A sweet story about coping with new siblings and appreciating friendship, featuring some inspired use of Australian animals.