My other reader was not convinced. In fact, he decided to go "green beans" on me about Little Joe. No matter how much I tried to convince him that if he tried it he'd like it, he insisted he did not want to read it. So, as I make him eat at least a few green beans, I made him read the first few chapters of Little Joe. He still would't admit that he liked it, but I could tell he did (just like with green beans). Not wanting to read or like the book became part of his identity, but when I watched him reading it, I could tell by his face that he enjoyed it.
Eventually, after he was finished reading the book, I was able to get him to admit that he did really like it. When I asked him why, he replied, "I like Little Joe because it's so real."
Me, too. Sandra Neil Wallace's story about a young boy, Eli, raising his first calf, Little Joe, is real. The relationships of the characters are real; especially central to the plot is the relationship between Eli and his father. The descriptions of nature are real. The farm life is real. This book captures the beauty of real, everyday living.
Boys who enjoy outdoors and animals should enjoy this book. Parents who enjoy their sons reading well-written, non-obnoxious, and detail-rich (but not overwhelming) books should put this in their hands. Eli is also a great (real) role model for boys; he's a young boy (9 years old) who is a hard worker, doesn't complain all the time, and is respectful and kind. Don't miss this one!