A kangaroo struggles to fit in when his family moves to a new home in this picture book.
Opening with facts about Australia (from the Latin for “Southern Land”) and kangaroos (that country boasts over 60 different kinds), this tale gives the impression that it will be a nonfiction answer to the titular question. Several types of kangaroos are introduced along with some information about their physical abilities—and yes, they can swim, but mostly just to avoid predators. One gray kangaroo who loves to swim is the fictional Joey, who adores the water more than his peers. When his family prepares to relocate, his mother suggests he might find a friend to swim with in their new place. After a discouraging revelation (their new home is a desert) and an impulsive rescue, Joey eventually meets a kindred spirit who shows him a swimming hole. The switch from facts to Huff’s (For Sale by Owner, 2018) fanciful story is jarring and may make young readers doubt the things they learned in the early pages. But the author’s amusing, stylized illustrations, with Schiller’s (The Story of Little Pickle, 2017) bright colors, are consistent throughout. It’s worth perusing the book just for two textless pages—a face-off between a wicked snake and a scared turtle—that capture the emotion of the moment perfectly.
While the volume’s mix of fact and fiction may give some readers pause, others will enjoy this animal tale about friendship that features humorous images.