Name of Book: Sloppy Joe
Author: Dave Keane
Illustrator: Denise Brunkus
Publisher: Harper Collins 2009
Audience: Ages 4 – 8
Summary: Sloppy Joe is about a young boy whose habit of being “sloppy” causes him to be ostracized by others, even his own family. Joe then choses to become “neat” Joe in order to fit in but discovers how he is accepted by his family regardless of him being “sloppy” or “neat”.
Central literary elements at work in the story: What is it like being comfortable in your own skin but struggling with being accepted? This story is being told from a first person perspective about being sloppy in a world that often does not appreciate differences in individuals. The plot of this story is about Sloppy Joe who finds himself always being “cleaned up” by his family or not being accepted by the community. Joe gets fed up with his sloppiness getting him in trouble so he decides to amend his sloppy habits to become “neat” Joe. In the end Joe sees that he is accepted regardless of his outside appearance.
Perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ abilities: Sloppy Joe gives the reader a glimpse of how being different is not as bad as Joe thinks it is. Joe comes to see that it the quality of the person on the inside is more important that the exterior facade. Sloppy Joe presents the reader elements of differences and acceptance. These are issues we all face regardless of what the difference issue may be.
Theological Conversation Partners: Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 12:13; 1 Corinthians 9:22
Faith Talk Questions:
- How does God view our differences?
- How can our differences create barriers in the way we worship?
- Why do people try to be a part of the mainstream rather than value their uniqueness?
- How can we honor and value each other’s differences?
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Tim Tate.