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Summary: Nolan finds a stray backhoe and names him Joe. He takes Joe home as his pet but Joe is not very well behaved. He doesn't listen, has too much energy, and makes big messes. Nolan decides to try to wear Joe out. He takes Joe to the park and out to play ball, but neither one works. Finally, Nolan finds an old building where Joe can dig. Happily! On their way home, Nolan sees a poster looking for a lost backhoe that looks a lot like Joe. He does the right thing and returns Joe to his owner. He gets to go visit Joe at his construction site and decides he might really want a pet cement mixer instead. This is a lighthearted story about a boy who loves trucks.
Type of Reading: family reading, playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 10
Interest Level: 3 to 8
Age of Child: Read with children 18 months and 3½ years old.
Young Reader Reaction: My son (1½) was interested in the pictures but wouldn't sit through the story. My daughter gave it a try but didn't like the story. She said it was "strange."
Adult Reader Reaction: I found the story a little choppy and confusing. Although the premise was strange to me, I suppose it could work if done right.
Pros: The story has nice illustration that kids who think of trucks as "people" will enjoy.
Cons: The story's message may be lost on some readers because of the way it is written.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow or skip. Children who like trucks (particularly construction equipment) may be satisfied to explore the great illustrations. That said, there are so many excellent books out there that have more appealing stories.
Educational Themes: With a little bit of expansion, you can talk with kids about friendship, taking care of a "pet," and also responsibility (i.e., returning something to the rightful owner).
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.