What happens when Superhero Joe meets the creature next door? In this sequel to Superhero Joe (2011), Joe finds out his next door neighbors are moving and is saddened because they have always told him he could use the tree house in their backyard at any time. The trouble is that Joe never really mastered climbing the ladder to get into the tree house. Even though he gathered his superhero skills and gadgets, he was still working out some kinks and could not reach the top by the time the moving van arrived. Joe’s imagination goes into overdrive and he convinces himself that the little boy who will be his new neighbor is a creature who has no problems climbing the tree house and making it his lair. As a graphic novel told through comics with hand-lettered text on full-page illustrations rendered in ink and colored digitally on glossy paper, the story may be a little complicated for younger readers. To assist beginning readers, the thirty-two pages have consistent text placement and font. With a palette of soft colors, the story humorously describes facing one’s fears in a positive way and finding the courage to try something new, such as meeting new friends. The publisher’s website has two sample pages to view; adults may want to check these before purchase, since the cartoonish monsters may be uncomfortable for younger readers. This is a good story and can serve as a resource for discussing tree houses, neighbors, fear, imagination, moving, and superheroes. Reviewer: Suzanne Javid; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—When Joe's neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Goode, move away, the imaginative boy spies on the new resident, an oddly dressed being in a heavy sweater and face-concealing hat. Joe wonders what sort of evil plans the Creature may have. From his bedroom window, he watches it repeatedly climb the ladder to the tree house Mr. Goode built, undoubtedly "transforming the tree house into his lair." Finally, Joe decides it's time to confront his foe. He dons his super gravity-defying boots, his cape of confidence, and his anti-glare goggles. As Superhero Joe prepares to set out on his mission, his mother intercepts him: "It's time to go meet our new next-door neighbors. I hear they have a little boy just your age." Joe follows his mother and approaches the tree house with trepidation. There he encounters a friendly boy who likes to dress up and pretend, just like he does. The boy helps Joe climb the previously insurmountable ladder into the tree house and introduces himself, "I'm Invisible Phil!" This entertaining tale of overcoming fear and making new friends is illustrated by precisely drawn panels reminiscent of the classic Archie comic books. The gray-blue palette of the scenes in which Joe spies on his new neighbor increases the sense of mystery and suspense. Clever details like stacks of comic books on the floor of Joe's room and pterodactyls flying around the treetops will make readers chuckle. A fine sequel to Superhero Joe (S & S, 2011).—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA
Joe marshals superhero skills and gadgets inspired by his comic books to combat the titular creature next door. When the sweet next-door neighbors move to Florida, Joe realizes that his dream of mastering the scary ladder to their treehouse is leaving with them. Someone new and unknown is moving into his territory, and this oversized person seems able to climb the rope ladder with ease. Joe's imagination goes into overdrive as he watches the creature, scenes from his comic books racing through his head. The creature might come from a haunted castle or outer space; he might want to steal Joe's toys and comics; he might even be a giant. When Joe finally makes his way over to meet the new family, he is pleasantly surprised. What lifts this comic tale above the ordinary new-kid-on-the-block offering is its sense of humor and detailed, throwback comic-book art. Crosshatching and tiny vertical lines add drama and depth to each spread, and the use of gray, blue and purple perfectly accents Joe's overactive imagination. The visual playfulness (including a riff on The Cat in the Hat) and dramatic comic-book language (invincibility, lair, radiance, infiltrate) make this one to reread. When he imagines the new kid calling him a shrimp, Joe is drawn as an actual sea critter! For anyone who has an interior superhero. (Picture book. 4-8)
Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman is the author of You Can't Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum, illustrated by her sister, #1 New York Times bestselling artist Robin Preiss Glasser. Weitzman graduated from Vassar College where she majored in Art History. She has contributed to several New York Times bestselling books for children. She lives with her family in New York State.
Ron Barrett is the internationally bestselling illustrator of many books for children, including Cats Got Talent, Superhero Joe, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Pickles to Pittsburgh, Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing, and Old MacDonald Had an Apartment House. His illustrations have been honored by the Society of Illustrators and have been exhibited at The Louvre in Paris. He lives in New York City.