Colouroos by Anna McGregor
Lothian Children's, 2019. ISBN: 9780734418821.
In the Red Centre of Australia live the red kangaroos; in the Blue Mountains live the blue kangaroos; and on the Gold Coast live the yellow kangaroos. When the drought drives each group from their traditional homes and they go in search of water and end up gathered around the same waterhole, they look at each other and think they are strange. But they all enjoy the cool water, are afraid of dingoes, leap on their long legs and eat the juicy grass and when, at night. 'the colour left to dance in the sky above', they all looked the same. And strange things began to happen . . .
On the surface this is a delightful Australian story for our youngest readers about the mixing of colours to create new ones, and it does this very effectively, although the adult sharing it might have to explain how joeys arrive. Full of colour, rhythm and repetitive text it engages and perhaps inspires the young child to do some experimenting with their own paints and ask What happens when . . .? It could give rise to a host of science and art activities about colour and light.
But a deeper look could also lead the older reader into considering how humans also mix and match, mingle and marry and give birth to the continuing story of multiculturalism and diversity that makes each community so special. Not just colours interacting but also cultures, foods, sports . . .
If there is one book to put on your to-buy list in preparation for the next Harmony Day, this is it. The best picture books span the age groups seamlessly and this debut by this author/illustrator has nailed it.