Roo Knows Blue, Renee Treml (author & illus.), Puffin Books, 2020

Synopsis: A joyous celebration of colour in the Australian bush from bestselling author-illustrator Renee Treml. Roo knows, Roo knows, Roo knows blue. But does Roo know about other colours too?

If you’re looking for a joyful new picture book for a young toddler in your life, Roo Knows Blue could be a perfect choice. It’s written and illustrated by Renee Treml, whose Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery graphic novel book I really enjoyed last year.

Roo Knows Blue is a sweet, lyrical, rhyming, and rhythmic picture book that introduces little ones to colours. In the book, the main character, a little kangaroo named Roo, learns how to identify the primary hues with the help of a patient possum friend and investigation of their surroundings.

Roo is focused on blue but soon learns just how many other colours are found in the Australian bush. With the story highlighting natural Aussie standouts like yellow wattle, pink galahs, and purple wildflowers, this tender yet light-hearted book introduces children to not only colours but also some of the wonderful flora and fauna found in our diverse country.

The story features repetition and has a sing-song quality to it, too, which is sure to engage kids quickly, even toddlers. (It’s suitable for children aged around one years or so and up). Plus, it’s always nice to see a book where a young character makes mistakes on their path to learning, to show readers that this is just a normal part of picking up new knowledge and skills.

Treml’s illustrations were created with scratchboard, ink and watercolours, then digitally collaged. This gives each spread depth, movement, emotion, and details for children to pick up on over multiple readings. As always, Treml’s illustrations beautifully convey the animal characters, with wit and positivity aplenty. Each spread is bright and colourful, as you’d imagine, but there’s also enough white space to avoid visual overwhelm.

The book has many helpful literacy elements to it but I can also see it inspiring families to get out into nature for exploratory bush walks and animal spotting sessions, which is another plus.

Please note: the publisher provided a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Review by Kellie Byrnes.

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