Title: Backhoe Joe
Author: Lori Alexander
Illustrator: Craig Cameron
Word Count: 500 (estimate)
Last November I completed Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month challenge, and lucky me, I was the winner of a prize — a copy of Backhoe Joe by Lori Alexander! The book just arrived in the mail, and I was eager to dig right in (pun intended!)
Backhoe Joe is every little boy’s dream (and maybe some little girl’s too!) – their very own piece of heavy machinery as a pet. What I love about this book is the way that Lori turns Joe into a very lovable personality. I mean, I’m not a lover of dump trucks, backhoes and diggers (although that may change as my son grows!), but she makes the relationship between Nolan, the little boy in the story, and Joe so sweet that you can’t help but envy it!
So if you’re wondering how to bring characterization to a backhoe. Here are some examples of how Lori does it.
Nolan first sees Joe while collecting some rocks and is quite excited by his discovery.
Nolan took a step closer.
Beep! Beep! Beep!
The backhoe reversed into the bushes.
I love how the reader sees Joe’s fear with the beeping and backing up — which is perfectly fitting to a backhoe! Later we see Joe’s playful side when:
Nolan gave the backhoe a pat behind the loader, which made his bucket wiggle like crazy.
His mischievous side comes out in the following:
He (Nolan) started with a few simple commands:
Joe revved at the mailman.
Joe treaded through Mr. Oldman’s grass.
Joe dug in the garbage.
Throughout the book, Joe’s character is brought to life in behaviors that are perfectly suited to a backhoe. The humor comes from the fact that they are also perfectly suited to the more typical pet experience of having a brand new puppy!
What is your favorite children’s book where an inanimate object is brought to life through great characterization?
Here’s a link to more reviews of story elements in Christie Wild’s 14:14 Blogging Challenge.