cover image Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe

Dave Keane, , illus. by Denise Brunkus. . Harper, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-171020-9

“Mom says I’m the first kid in history to take a school picture with gum stuck in his hair. You can barely notice.” Keane’s (Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain ) opening lines, and the accompanying photo of disheveled Joe with a large wad of bubble gum on his head, clue readers in to this book’s humorous tone—at once understated and hyperbolic—from the outset. Brunkus’s (Junie B. Jones series) bustling art provides bountiful evidence of Joe’s sloppiness: food flies and milk spills as he shovels cereal into his mouth (wearing goggles for protection). But his effortless messiness (“I slurp, spill, slouch, talk with my mouth full, and put my elbows on the table without even trying”) has its downside: his friend’s mom refuses to let Joe—with a frog sticking out of his pocket and a puddle of mud under his sneakers—inside (“But I wiped my feet!” he laments). When his entire family comes down with the flu, his attempts to morph into Neat Joe and make soup have expectedly comedic results. From start to finish, this is good, not-so-clean fun. Ages 4–7. (July)