Review by Lauren Hathaway
Tundra, Penguin Random House, 7 January 2020
40 pages, hardcover, $21.99 CAD, 978-0-73526-664-3
Ages 3-7, Grades Pre K-2
We all go through moments where we feel gloomy, down, or like we’ve lost the spring in our step. These feelings inspire the premise of What’s Up, Maloo?
Maloo the kangaroo can hop like no other, until one day his smile turns into a frown and, suddenly, he finds himself counting his steps instead of his hops. Maloo’s friends notice that something is not quite right with their normally bouncy kangaroo friend and band together to help Maloo get his hop—and his smile—back.
Originally published in French by La Pastèque, a French-Canadian publisher with a reputation for beautifully illustrated picture books, What’s Up, Maloo? is a visual treat for readers of all ages. Godbout has previously lent her talent to picture books like The Pink Umbrella and Goodnight, Anne, the latter of which received a coveted starred review from Kirkus. In What’s Up, Maloo, she pairs her delightful pastel and coloured-pencil illustrations with sparse, to-the-point text. With a nudge from the words, the illustrations drive the story forward, conveying both the outright dejection and sheer joy that Maloo feels at different moments. Through it all, his friends are always ready to support him, even if they don’t understand what exactly is going on.
Whether shared in the classroom, in a library read-aloud, or at home, this book provides the opportunity to spark a discussion with children on themes surrounding mental health. With its sweet illustrations and simple words, What’s Up, Maloo? gently explores sadness and celebrates the friends that lift us up when we’re down.
What’s Up, Maloo? by Geneviève Godbout will be out January 7, 2020.
Lauren holds an M.A. in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia and a B.A. in English from Fordham University. She regularly reviews children’s books for School Library Journal and loves sharing books with her eight nieces and nephews back home in Arizona.