Riley and the jumpy kangaroo by Tania McCartney

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Ill. by Kieron Pratt. Ford St Publishing, 2013. ISBN 9781925000023 (hardback). ISBN 978192500030 (Paperback).
Highly recommended for young readers from 5 to 10. There were two excellent reasons I was keen to review this latest Riley book. Firstly, after two very happy years living and teaching in Canberra, I knew I would relish the chance to share one of my favourite places with my littlies. Secondly, I remember an absolutely fantastical fun day hosting Tania McCartney in my library at Red Hill School and watching the children fascinated with her presentation and her stories about Riley - and the grand finale of launching dozens of red paper planes across the library space. An exciting follow up to this story was one little Prep boy writing and illustrating his own Riley story which we gleefully scanned and sent to Tania, who was thrilled.
Tania has created a loyal and enthusiastic fan base among younger readers who simply eat up Riley's adventures (and I am convinced imagine themselves flying in a little red bi-plane to their own next destination).
This newest adventure coincides with Canberra's centenary and gives readers a glimpse of many iconic images from our nation's capital. I loved being able to show Miss Small the places I had seen so often during my Canberra sojourn, when she had been here in Brisbane wondering all the time about the strange place I described in letters and phone calls. She now has a much clearer idea of a city she has never seen. And she thoroughly enjoyed trying to figure out just what that jumpy kangaroo was looking for!
Tania's books are such a marvellous blend of fiction and non-fiction - like a whimsical travelogue for young ones - and children love to identify with places they know or have seen on TV or in movies. The Riley books are cleverly illustrated by combining photographic images of each city with Kieron Pratt's quirky cartoon-style additions. The resulting contrast is always sensational.
I am certainly hoping that Brisbane might be next on Tania's list!
Sue Warren