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Superhero Joe



Last updated Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Author: Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman
Illustrator: Ronald Barrett
Date of Publication: 2011
ISBN: 1416991573
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2013

Synopsis: From Publisher's Weekly:
Joe "used to be scared of everything." At night, his bedroom closet seems to overflow with menacing items, including ravenous-looking gym shoes and a cobralike belt. But then he realizes that clothes could make the man and creates a superhero outfit to give himself courage. Attired in a "Cape of Confidence" (a bath towel), a "Torch of Radiance" (a flashlight), a bike helmet, and other accoutrements of invincibility, even the spooky basement doesn't faze him--he retrieves a mop for his mother and saves the kitchen floor from motor oil peril. Barrett's (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) terrific pictures, with their crisp outlines, yellow-orange hues, dramatic lighting, and cross-hatching, hearken back to the comic book art of the 1950s; Joe goes from a 67-lb. weakling to a dynamo capable of wide-legged poses worth of any action figure.

Note to readers:
•  Have children examine the front cover first and ask them to point out the different things Joe is wearing.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What type of superhero is Joe?
•  What kinds of things does Joe fight off?
•  Why is Joe wearing a cape of confidence?

Vocabulary:
•  banish - to send away
•  confidence - belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities
•  invisibility - withdrawn or out of sight; not being seen by others
•  torch - flashlight
•  radiance - brightness or light
•  gravity-defying - ability to be suspended in air; drift, float, fly, hover

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What gear does Superhero Joe use to save the day?
•  Why does Joe believe that the "monsters" won't see him?
•  What supplies or tools could help give you courage during a bad situation?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw an onomatopoeia - word that phonetically imitates or suggests the source of the sound it makes; the word means nothing more than the sound it makes (ex. "crash", "slam", "bang"). Draw big letters with bright colors. Cut out and paste on brightly colored paper, then add a drawing of yourself as a superhero.
•  Make your own wristbands. Cut a wide strip of construction paper, draw symbols such as lightning bolts, wrap around wrist and tape or fold together.

Special activities:
•  Just like Joe did, write a list of codes that could help get you home if you ever get lost, such as home phone number, parents' cell phone numbers, address, etc. (Children should not write their actual phone numbers and addresses. Rather, they can make a list of the information to write down at home, then to memorize).

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!