Joe and Sparky Go to School by Jamie Michalak, Frank Remkiewicz |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Joe and Sparky Go to School
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Joe and Sparky Go to School

5.0 1
by Jamie Michalak, Frank Remkiewicz

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The endearing and mismatched pals accidentally latch onto a big yellow bus and leave the cageless zoo for their first trip to school.

Sparky the turtle may be cautious, but when the strange vehicle full of noisy short people pulls away from Safari World, he finds himself stuck on the bus’s roof just the same. Luckily his giraffe friend, Joe, is


The endearing and mismatched pals accidentally latch onto a big yellow bus and leave the cageless zoo for their first trip to school.

Sparky the turtle may be cautious, but when the strange vehicle full of noisy short people pulls away from Safari World, he finds himself stuck on the bus’s roof just the same. Luckily his giraffe friend, Joe, is adventurous enough to take a running jump, too! When they arrive at school, they discover that there’s a lot to learn, like the fact that the restroom is full of little magic "ponds," that you’re supposed to count the peas, not eat them, and that the goal of the day seems to be to get a star. But just when Joe fears that he may have to go home starless, Sparky reminds him of all the ways that his loyal friend already shines. Readers will roll over laughing — and find lots to relate to — in this hilarious new adventure.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Written in four accessible chapters, this book is perfect for the newly independent reader and makes a fine bridge from Amelia Bedelia to Ramona. Limited but lively vocabulary, a large font, and carefully placed illustrations—all in a humorous, high-interest package—will make this a hit.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
Publishers Weekly
When a group of "noisy short people" (aka schoolchildren) arrives at Safari World, Sparky the turtle and Joe the giraffe take an immediate interest. With Sparky riding on Joe's head, they peer through the window of the kids' school bus—and inadvertently get taken on a field trip of their own. In the third chapter book to star this unlikely duo, Michalak will have readers giggling over the silly exchanges and comedic misunderstandings that follow as Sparky and Joe attempt to fit in at school. Their discovery of a toilet makes for an especially amusing sequence, as they watch it mysteriously refill: "Do you know what we have learned, Sparky?" asks Joe. "That schools have a magic pond." The vibrant watercolor and colored pencil cartoons and well-targeted humor (the children know that Sparky and Joe are animals, but their nearsighted teacher, Miss Hootie, believes they are students) will entertain growing readers. A final image hints that Sparky and Joe's next adventure might be just on the horizon. Ages 5–7. Illustrator's agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary. (June)
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
Joe, a giraffe, and Sparky, a turtle, are friends. They live in Safari Land, a cageless zoo. Sparky rides on Joe's head. A school bus arrives with "noisy short people." While Joe examines the bus, Sparky climbs on top. The bus leaves the zoo with Sparky on the roof and Joe hanging on the back. The teacher, Miss Hootie, breaks her glasses and thinks Joe is a student with a hat on. The "hat" is really Sparky. Miss Hootie reads a story to the class and gives Sparky a star for good listening. For math Joe and Sparky eat the peas they are supposed to count. They follow the class to the restroom and enjoy the whirling pond. Sparky gets many stars in class. Joe wants one. In art class Sparky makes a sign with a big star and hangs it on Joe. Then school is over and Joe takes Sparky back to the zoo. Colorful cartoonish pictures are on every page of this four-chapter book. Children will enjoy this silly story. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—This beginning chapter book is a lot of fun. Joe Giraffe and Sparky, a turtle, live in Safari Land, "the famous cageless zoo." In four chapters they see a school bus and climb on to satisfy their curiosity; end up at school with the "noisy short people"; try to blend in but the "magic pond" (the toilet) provides some silliness; and Joe attempts to get a star for good work since Sparky has earned several. The animals experience the ups and downs of friendship. The students seem totally unaware that these newcomers are animals, and the teacher is equally accepting. She does step on her glasses and that limits her vision but, nevertheless, Joe and Sparky's visit seems as normal as could be. The cartoon illustrations in watercolor and Prismacolor pencils are full of action and humor. This is an engaging choice for students who are beyond the easy-to-reads and not quite ready for longer chapter books. The humor is mild but entertaining and the readability is just right.—Susan Lissim, Dwight School, New York City
Kirkus Reviews
It's not Mary's little lamb, but Joe the giraffe and Sparky the turtle who go to school one day in this third installment of Michalak and Remkiewicz's early-reader series. When Joe and Sparky spy a field trip at Safari Land, "the famous cageless zoo," Joe can't resist getting a closer look at the school bus, which is big, yellow and loud, just like him. With Sparky perched atop his head, Joe sidles up to the bus, and the turtle inadvertently ends up speeding away on the bus' roof. Ever loyal, Joe leaps onto the back of the bus to save his friend. In the second chapter, they arrive at the school, where the teacher, Miss Hootie, steps on her glasses. Her sight compromised, she mistakes Joe and Sparky for a student (presumably one that's wearing a hat), much to her real students' delight and amusement. Try as they might, the animals can't quite master the class routines, and Joe is woefully disappointed, as he wants to earn a star from Miss Hootie. Happily, Sparky finds ways to affirm his friend, and they end up back in Safari Land by book's end. While the story feels rather forced and reliant on slapstick, and the pictures not always great at providing context cues for new readers, fans of the earlier, stronger series installments will be pleased to revisit its characters. Onward Joe and Sparky! (Early reader. 6-8)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Candlewick Sparks Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Jamie Michalak is the author of the acclaimed Joe and Sparky series. She lives in Barrington, Rhode Island.

Frank Remkiewicz has illustrated many books for children, including three books about Joe and Sparky. He lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

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Joe and Sparky Go to School 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Susan55 More than 1 year ago
Joe and Sparky Go to School is a charming and hilarious tale of two great but different pals who complement each other so well! A timid Turtle and adventurous Giraffe. My students ranging in ages 4-12 LOVED the story when I read it to them. One girl age 9 said she laughed so hard she had tears in her eyes! (true laughter and enjoyment from one that age!) A favorite of all! I highly recommend any Joe and Sparky book but this one really rocks!