'Kangaroo And Joey Too' | Circle Round 6620:48

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

This episode is the first in a special three-part pop-up series performed live with musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, in front of a very excited audience of children and grown-ups.  

If you’re a kid, have you ever thought about how it might feel to be a parent? To have a child of your own, and make sure that they’re safe and healthy?

Well, as a mom myself, I can tell you — it’s definitely an adventure!

In this story, we’ll meet an animal mom who goes on a very big adventure to keep her baby safe.

The live performance of Circle Round with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Center on June 30, 2019. (Aram Boghosian)
The live performance of Circle Round with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Center on June 30, 2019. (Aram Boghosian)

Our story is called “Kangaroo and Joey Too.” It originally comes from Australia.

Some really great people came together to bring you this story — at a really great place!

Joining us on stage was a trio of musicians from the Boston Symphony Orchestra — second bassoonist Suzanne Nelsen, flutist Cindy Meyers, and second horn Rachel Childers — plus a quartet of all-star actors: Lauren Ambrose, Jane Kaczmarek, Thomas Sadoski and Campbell Scott.

Story continues below

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Grown-ups, you might recognize Lauren Ambrose from Six Feet Under; in 2018 she nabbed a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Jane Kaczmarek received seven Emmy Award nominations for playing Lois in Malcolm in the Middle. Stage and screen star Thomas Sadoski is another Tony Award nominee; he’ll make his New York theatrical directing debut in 2020, with the play "Perry Street" at MCC. And Campbell Scott is an award-winning actor and director, who’s starred in everything from Singles to House of Cards.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir and edited by Katherine Brewer. Original music and sound design by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

ADULTS!  PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on FacebookTwitterInstagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Things To Think About After Listening
What — or who — in your life do you take care of? Maybe you water plants in a garden, you tuck your dolls or stuffed toys in at night, or you sometimes keep an eye on your baby brother or sister.

Find a grown-up and tell them what you do to be a good caretaker, and if you ever encounter challenges along the way. Then, have them help you dream up a solution.

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Way, way back — when the world was young — a Kangaroo lived with her little daughter, Joey.

Kangaroos, you may know, are marsupials. Marsupials are a family of animals where the females have a pouch. The pouch can be on their belly, or on their back, and it’s like a very special pocket where mothers can carry their teeny-tiny babies around after they’re born.

But this story takes place long, long ago, before marsupial moms had any pouch at all!

Now, this particular marsupial mom, Kangaroo, she kept very busy looking after her baby. She groomed her.

KANGAROO: Joey! Time for your bath!

JOEY: Coming, Mother!

NARRATOR: She brought her fresh food.

KANGAROO: Here’s some yummy, yummy grass, darling!

JOEY: Thanks, Mom!

NARRATOR: … and every night, she used her powerful hind legs to dig the coziest of holes for Joey to sleep in.

KANGAROO: Sweet dreams, my love. Don’t let the witchety grubs bite!

JOEY: (snoring sounds)

NARRATOR: But like so many youngsters — maybe even you — Joey was very curious. The mischievous little kangaroo loved to scamper around and explore, especially when something interesting caught her eye — be it a bird, a butterfly or a brightly-colored flower.

So every now and again, you’d hear Kangaroo’s voice ring out across the plains.

KANGAROO: (calling out) Joey! Joey! Oh, where has that kiddo gone this time?

(to the audience) You have no idea how much I wish I could just hold Joey in my arms! But have you seen how short a kangaroo’s arms are? Have you? It’s ridiculous!

And given how teeny-tiny Joey’s arms are, it isn’t like she can grab on to my tail and hold on all day! Oh, if only I had a way to carry my baby around with me and keep her close!

(calling out again) Joey! Joey!

NARRATOR: There was another reason Kangaroo yearned to keep Joey close all the time. It had a little something to do with this guy.

DINGO: (faux-innocent) Who, me???!!??!

NARRATOR: (to Dingo) Yes, you!

DINGO: But I’m just a dingo!

NARRATOR: (to Dingo) “Just a dingo,” eh? Why don’t you tell the nice people listening exactly what a “dingo” is.

DINGO: Well, a dingo is a wild dog. I’m slim, I’m fast, and I have a massive appetite! Some of my favorite foods include birds, frogs, rabbits, rats and possums!

NARRATOR: (to Dingo) Um, Dingo…? Aren’t you forgetting something?

DINGO: Hmm… Am I forgetting something…?

Oh! Yes! Of course!

Kangaroos! I love eating kangaroos!

NARRATOR: There you have it.

One bright, sunny morning, Kangaroo was setting out to gather breakfast when she and Joey heard somebody...

WOMBAT: (sneezing)

NARRATOR: ...sneezing!

WOMBAT: (sneezing)

NARRATOR: They turned and looked, and waddling toward them was Wombat.

WOMBAT: (sneezing)

NARRATOR: A wombat is another marsupial. If you’ve never seen a wombat before, try picturing a combination of a gopher and a bear and a pig. The wombat is pudgy and furry, with stumpy legs and a stubby tail. Its thick snout is great for smelling, but its small, squinty eyes can hardly see a thing.

WOMBAT: (very melodramatic sneezes) Oh, woe is me! (sneeze) Woe is me!

KANGAROO: Wombat! Are you okay?

NARRATOR: Wombat squinted his beady eyes.

WOMBAT: (sounding like he has a cold) Kangaroo?! Is that you? You know how terrible my eyesight is. (cracking a joke) I’d say I’m “blind as a bat,” but it’s more like “blind as a wombat”! Am I right? (sneezes again)

KANGAROO: (with a smile) Yes, Wombat. And yes: it’s Kangaroo here!

JOEY: ...and Joey! Hi, Wombat!

KANGAROO: Tell us: is everything alright?

WOMBAT: (with a cold) Did you know you are the first one to ask me that question? All morning I’ve been shuffling around, sneezing my snout off, and the other animals wouldn’t give me the time of day!

JOEY: Well, that’s not very nice!

WOMBAT: (with a cold) You’re telling me! Animals these days. Sheesh!

But, since you asked, I have this cold, you see. This dreadful, dreadful cold. So my snout is all stuffed up. And given how bad my eyes are, my snout is what helps me find good things to eat! How will I ever get some breakfast if I can’t smell anything?

NARRATOR: Kangaroo smiled.

KANGAROO: I tell you what, Wombat. Your legs are just long enough to grab on to my tail. Hold on tight, and Joey and I will lead you to the sweetest, juiciest grass you’ve ever tasted! Come along, Joey!

NARRATOR: So Wombat clung on to Kangaroo’s tail, and they hopped away.

When they reached a lush patch of grass, Wombat immediately began stuffing clump after clump into his mouth.

WOMBAT: (munching grass) Oh, Kangaroo! This was so kind of you, so generous! Thank you!

KANGAROO: You’re very welcome, Wombat. Joey and I are always happy to help a friend in need! Aren’t we, Joey?

(Joey doesn’t answer) Joey?

(realizing Joey’s gone) Joey!

NARRATOR: Kangaroo swiveled her head this way and that, but sure enough, Joey was nowhere to be seen.

Quick as a wink, Kangaroo used her powerful hind legs to dig a hole in the ground.

KANGAROO: Wombat, it isn’t safe out here. You hide in this hole while I go find Joey. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

NARRATOR: Grateful Wombat crawled into the hole. Kangaroo covered it with grass. Then she bounded off to find her daughter.


NARRATOR: Will Kangaroo track down her baby Joey? And what will happen to Wombat?

We’ll find out when we return to Circle Round Live at Tanglewood ... after a quick break.


NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to Circle Round, live with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood. Our story is called “Kangaroo and Joey Too.”

When we left off, Kangaroo was searching for her mischievous daughter, Joey. And now … back to our live show at Tanglewood!

NARRATOR: The worried mother looked high and low — peeping under every bush, peering behind every tree — but she saw no signs of Joey. Until...

JOEY: Boo!

KANGAROO: (startled) Aaaaah!

NARRATOR: Kangaroo jumped so high her long, muscular tail brushed the top of a gumtree.

KANGAROO: (stern, but loving) Joey! You startled me!

Where did you go?

JOEY: I’m sorry, mother. (excited) It’s just that while you and Wombat were going to get some food, I saw the most amazing moth. It was almost as big as I was! Seriously! And then I just had to follow it to see where it was going, and, and … (feeling bad) I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.

NARRATOR: Kangaroo gazed at Joey. She extended one of her short, furry arms and patted her daughter’s soft, woolly head.

KANGAROO: (with a smile) I do love your curiosity, dear. But I also love you! And I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to you!

So, please: stay near. You know how dangerous it can be out here and --

WOMBAT: (in the distance) Heeelp! Heeeeeeeeeeelp!

NARRATOR: Kangaroo and Joey froze.

JOEY: Mother! Was that ... Wombat?!?

KANGAROO: I think it was, Joey.

I have to help him!

NARRATOR: For the second time that morning, Kangaroo used her powerful hind legs to dig a hole in the earth.

KANGAROO: (focused, but also nervous about leaving Joey) Listen, Joey. You hide in this hole until I find Wombat. And please: no loud noises, no sudden moves, and no wandering off. I’ll be back as quickly as I can. Okay?

JOEY: Of course! Wombat’s our friend, and he needs help.

I love you, Mother.

NARRATOR: Kangaroo gave Joey a kiss.

KANGAROO: I love you, too, darling.

NARRATOR: Then she covered the hole with grass, and leapt back to where Wombat was hiding. Or was supposed to be hiding, anyway.

KANGAROO: Wombat! I’m back!


NARRATOR: Kangaroo kicked aside the grass and peered down. But to her dismay...

KANGAROO: (gasp) Oh no!

NARRATOR: ...the hole was empty.

KANGAROO: Oh, Wombat. What’s happened to you?

NARRATOR: Then Kangaroo heard something that made her blood run cold.

DINGO: (howling sound)

NARRATOR: A howl like that could only belong to one animal.


NARRATOR: Kangaroo stared off into the distance. There was sleek, slender Dingo — and he was racing after squat, stout Wombat!

Fun fact about wombats: even though they’re small and stocky, did you know they actually can run really fast? Yup! They can bolt up to 25 miles an hour when they think they’re in trouble.

But this wombat had a terrible cold, and he was running out of steam. So Dingo was hot on his trail!

Kangaroo knew what she had to do. She took a deep breath…

KANGAROO: (deep inhale, exhale)

NARRATOR: ...then bounded toward Dingo.

KANGAROO: (calling out, teasing/taunting) Dingo! Hey, Dingo! Why feast on a runty little wombat when you can have a big ol’ kangaroo instead?

NARRATOR: Dingo immediately began to drool.

DINGO: A kangaroo? Mmm-mmm-mmm! Count me in!

NARRATOR: And with that, the wild dog stopped chasing Wombat, switched directions, and started racing after Kangaroo!

DINGO: Ready or not, here I come!

NARRATOR: Kangaroo was swift and strong, and led Dingo all over the place.

They dashed over hills…

DINGO: (running) You’re gonna make one delicious meal, Kangaroo!

KANGAROO: (hopping) You’ll have to catch me first!

NARRATOR: They careened around bushes…

DINGO: (running, getting tired) I’m right behind you, Kangaroo!

KANGAROO: (hopping, not slowing down) Not for long!

NARRATOR: They splashed through watering holes…

DINGO: (running, much more tired) Don’t think you can outrun me, Kangaroo!

KANGAROO: (hopping, not slowing down) I don’t think I can “outrun” you, Dingo! I think I can out-hop you!

NARRATOR: After chasing Kangaroo for the better part of an hour, Dingo was worn out. His run…

DINGO: (running)

NARRATOR: …became more of a jog…

DINGO: (jogging, tiredly)

NARRATOR: …then a walk…

DINGO: (walking)

NARRATOR: …then a stagger...

DINGO: (staggering)

NARRATOR: …then, finally, a limp, as the wild dog hung his weary head and stumbled back to his den.

DINGO: (limping/stumbling, exhausted)

NARRATOR: With Dingo safely out of the picture, Kangaroo leapt back to where she’d hidden Joey.

Much to her delight and relief…

JOEY: (delighted/relieved) Mother!

NARRATOR: ...the pint-sized kangaroo was still there, safe and sound.

KANGAROO: Joey! My love! Thank goodness you’re alright!

NARRATOR: She leaned down to nuzzle her daughter’s furry face. Joey looked up at her with inquisitive eyes.

JOEY: So, Mother --did you chase away Dingo?

KANGAROO: (proudly) I did, kiddo! That dog will be limping for days!

JOEY: And Wombat’s safe, then?

NARRATOR: Kangaroo paused.

KANGAROO: Well... I’m pretty sure he got away. But now that I think about it, I never saw where he went!

You know, he did have that awful cold. Maybe I should go back out and look for him and see whether --

WOMBAT: Oh, there’s no need for that.

NARRATOR: Kangaroo and Joey spun around.

KANGAROO: Wombat! You’re safe!

JOEY: And your cold is gone!

(impressed) You look good!

NARRATOR: It was true: Wombat did look good! His snout was no longer stuffed up, and his squinty, beady eyes actually seemed to sparkle.

Do you know why?

Because Wombat wasn’t really Wombat! He was the great Creator Spirit… the one Aboriginal people in Australia call “Baiame.” And Baiame had come down to Earth disguised as a sniffly, sneezy wombat for a very specific reason.

WOMBAT/BAIAME: I wanted to learn which one of my creatures had the kindest, most generous heart. And Kangaroo…? It’s you!

KANGAROO: (touched, disbelief) Me…?

WOMBAT/BAIAME: (with a smile) Yes! You’re the only one who actually took time to help a sick, hungry wombat find food. Then you hid me... and saved me from Dingo… all while making sure your beloved little Joey was safe!

It all proves what a thoughtful and compassionate friend you are, Kangaroo — and parent, too!

NARRATOR: Kangaroo blushed.

KANGAROO: (touched, honored) Thank you! But I can’t help but feel I could be an even better parent… if I had a way to keep Joey close to me! I mean, she’s so small, and vulnerable, and she loves to explore, and --

WOMBAT/BAIAME: Say no more.

NARRATOR: Baiame held out a long strip of tree bark.

WOMBAT/BAIAME: Take this tree bark and lay it over your belly. Then, you will get your wish.

NARRATOR: And with that, he disappeared.

Kangaroo did as she was told, and placed the tree bark over her belly. Immediately, it stuck there!

KANGAROO: (sound of surprise) Oh!

NARRATOR: Then, the rough, dry bark became furry… and warm… and transformed... into a pouch. It was just the right size for little Joey, who hopped right in.

JOEY: (impressed) Coool!

NARRATOR: From then on, as Kangaroo went about her daily tasks, she never had to worry about whether her daughter was safe. Young Joey had a cozy, comfy place where she could peek out and observe the rest of the world. She could sleep in the pouch, too, snuggled up against her mother’s soft belly.

But soon, Kangaroo started thinking about the other animals in her family — the marsupial family. She thought about all those hard-working koala mothers, and possum mothers, and wallaby mothers, and wombat mothers, and wished that they could have a special place to carry their young ones, too.

The great creator spirit Baiame heard Kangaroo’s wish — and granted it. And now, all marsupial babies stay safe as their busy moms go running and climbing and crawling and yes, hopping around.

Rebecca Sheir Twitter Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.