A rabbit, frog, grasshopper, and koala provide an encouraging audience for a baby kangaroo fresh out of the pouch and ready to learn to jump. Illustrated with sunny watercolor and ink cartoons, the text consists of the animals' dialogue and the sounds they make as they model leaping for the joey (boing), who consistently falls over when she tries to jump (blomp). Why is this determined marsupial having so much trouble mimicking her mama and her peers? Koala finally figures it out by asking what's in the joey's pocket. She replies: "I have 1 sock, a candybar, 2 jacks, a toy dinosaur, 3 marbles, a cool rock I found, 4 buttons..." and a horde of other stuff. With a lightened load, the joey is able to jump off the page, literally, in an exuberant pop-up spread. It's an accomplishment designed to have preschoolers springing from their seats, as, on the last page, the rabbit, looking outward along with his buddies, cheerfully announces, "Your turn!"
Common sense works when encouragement doesn't in this bouncy solo debut. Though Grasshopper, Frog, Rabbit, and Mama Kangaroo cheer him on, a young kangaroo just keeps falling over whenever she tries to jump. What's the problem? At last, Koala's savvy question-"What do you have in your pocket? - provides the answer: "I have 1 sock, a candy bar, 2 jacks, a toy dinosaur, 3 marbles," and a few dozen other items besides. Bruel keeps the art simple, setting the episode in a glade nearly free of extraneous detail or-until the denouement-text, then putting Kangaroo's climactic bound onto a spread that unfolds up and out as it's opened.
A mother kangaroo tries to teach her joey how to hop by example in Bruel's debut children's book. Mama demonstrates her kinetic prowess, leaping in giant arcs (a dotted line traces her path) to the delight of her child as well as other onlookers: a frog, rabbit and grasshopper. The joey determinedly tries to jump-only to flop to the ground with a resounding "blomp." Each animal demonstrates its own jumping ability, bouncing across the spread from left to right, interjecting encouraging words-"Like this!" and "Don't give up!"-that comprise the book's sparse narrative. But when the kangaroo tries to do the same, it is unable to get off the ground. Finally, a wise-looking koala bear pipes up, "What do you have in your pocket?" The joey excitedly reveals his treasure trove, emptying out toys, a book, "a cool rock I found" and much more. With its load significantly lightened, the tyke leaps into the air in an enormous boing that literally pops up to greet readers. Bruel's cartoons brim with energy and emotion-the joey's expression of concentration as it attempts to leap is priceless, as are the flabbergasted reactions of the animals when they discover the problem. Not a book for bedtime, this tale will likely inspire young readers to hop excitedly along, particularly given the animals' parting words: "Your turn!," "You can do it!" and "It's easy!" Ages 3-7.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1–Told mainly through bright, cheerful pictures that are enhanced by bits of dialogue and pertinent sound effects, this simple story will make children smile. A young kangaroo is learning to hop with the help of its mother and their friends, a grasshopper, a rabbit, and a frog. Despite the repeated demonstrations and many words of encouragement, the joey tries is unable to duplicate the resounding “boing” produced by its mother and the others, only managing a feeble “bloomp” or “blop.” Finally, a koala that has been looking on from a perch in a tree suggests that the youngster empty its pocket. After pulling out a carefully itemized collection of amusing belongings including, among other things, “1 sock,” “2 jacks,” “a red ribbon,” “a green ribbon,” and “a banana,” the little kangaroo joyously leaps into the air and off the page in an unexpected pop-up illustration. Pair this charming title with Emily Arnold McCully’s First Snow (HarperCollins, 1985), another tale told in pictures of a young animal’s triumph over a seemingly insurmountable challenge.–