About the Holiday
You know when a sandwich gets its own holiday that it must be pretty popular! While there are many theories on the origin of this hot sandwich, no one can dispute that it’s oh, so tasty! Whether you like to take a bit of time adding special ingredients to your sloppy joes or the ease of using a canned sauce, today’s honored meal is always delicious – and is probably a favorite of the little boy in today’s book!
Written by Dave Keane | Illustrated by Denise Brunkus
Joe sits on the sofa, his hair tousled and a mischievous grin on his face. On the end table sits a framed photo of Joe, his hair tousled and a mischievous grin on his face. He tells you, “‘Mom says I’m the first kid in history to take a school picture with gum stuck in his hair.’” What’s the boy’s take on the situation? “‘You can barely notice.’” Joe moves to his room, scattered with toys, books, clothes, sports equipment, and who-knows-what-else. Well… Joe does. It’s just that he can’t find his “bearded dragon, a few of his crickets, and a grilled cheese sandwich” from last summer.
Joe is so messy that everyone is always fussing over him, trying to improve his appearance. Joe says he’d “rather be raised by alligators.” Is it hard for Joe to be so sloppy? Nah, he’s always been that way! Grandma and Grandpa know all about how messy Joe can be when he eats, so when the family visits they spread newspapers under his chair and all the way into the living room to catch any rolling meatballs.
Sloppiness isn’t Joe’s only talent, though. He’s also the best frog catcher in the neighborhood. Where does he keep them? Let’s just say they like to surprise Joe’s mom when she puts away the laundry. His dad is always happy to have Joe help out too, even if he did spill a little paint when fixing the fence, knock the bird bath over with hose spray, and snip the flowers off the bush while trimming it
Are there downsides to being so sloppy? Maybe one or two—like when his friend’s mom won’t let him in the house even though he wiped his feet and that time when his best jokes didn’t get him out of trouble. When that happened, Sloppy Joe decided to become Neat Joe. He dressed in his best clothes, combed his hair, and cleaned up his room. He even gave the dog a bath. And he didn’t stop there. He set the table for dinner, complete with weed centerpieces and frogs holding place cards.
But his family hardly noticed. It turns out they all had the flu. So Joe sprang into action with cold socks for their foreheads, homemade soup, germ spray, and some new jokes that, admittedly, made them groan a little louder. With all this care taking, Joe’s clothes have become a bit disheveled and the kitchen is a little messy, but when Grammy gets there to help out, she’s sure to notice a difference. So what does his family “think of the new Neat Joe? ‘He reminds me of the old Sloppy Joe,’ Dad says. ‘And he’s a very special kid,’ Mom says.”
Dave Keane taps into that free-wheeling kid messiness that happens when curious kids meet dirt, animals, food, toys, chores…well, just about anything. Keane’s classic storytelling will have readers giggling at Joe’s shenanigans while appreciating that underneath all the stained clothes, muddy shoes, and tangled hair lies a heart of gold.
Drawn with Denise Brunkus’s distinctive flair, Joe is rumpled, disheveled, oblivious—and happy. With frogs in his pockets, a pair of aviator glasses on his head, and a room filled top to bottom with stuff, Joe is a whirlwind that will make kids laugh with recognition. Children and adults will want to hunker down together to point out all the funny details of both Sloppy and Neat Joe’s world.
For laugh-out-loud story times at home and in the classroom, Sloppy Joe can’t be beat.
Ages 4 – 8
HarperCollins, 2009 | ISBN 978-0061710209
Discover more about Dave Keane and his books on his website
National Sloppy Joe Day Activity
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Getting messy is fun, but cleaning up can be fun too! Enjoy these printable activities about recycling.
Picture Book Review