When Joe's parents are attacked by evil black ooze (motor oil) his mother pleads with him to get the Staff of Power (the mop) to rid the kitchen of the mess. Joe, who used to be scared of everything, swings into action to plumb the darkest depths (the basement) to find the Staff of Power. But first he must don his Cape of Confidence and Shield of Invincibility, his Power Gloves, Super Gravity-Defying Boots and his helmet. He arms himself with the Torch of Radiance (a flashlight) as down to depths he goes ready to do battle and save his parents from peril. He returns with mop in hand and soon the kitchen and Mom and Dad are sparkling clean. All in a day's work for a kid who knows there aren't any monsters in his closet but in case there are...he is ready. Super Joe is super fun from beginning to end. Readers will chuckle as Joe prepares to defend his family and they will admire his courage and creativity. The cartoon-like illustrations are lively and filled with all the drama and energy of this imaginative tale. It is reminiscent of Dick Gackenbach's Harry and the Terrible Whatzit (c1977) as it celebrates bravery in the face of unknown and unseen monsters that lurk in every child's imagination. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
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 worthy of any action figure. Unfortunately, Weitzman's (You Can't Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum) self-esteem message is a bit heavy-handed ("Now I know the light switch to the basement is just at the bottom of the stairs"), and Joe's imaginative conceit gets neutralized in the book's final pages. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—When Joe's parents call for help, he is ready. The boy confides that he used to be scared of everything but not any more. Inspired by his comic-book heroes, he has devised superhero gear (Cape of Confidence, Helmet of Invisibility, Power Gloves, and Super Gravity-Defying Boots) to cope with the frightening situations in his life. Wearing his protective gear, he uses the Torch of Radiance to light the way into the basement, locate the sponge mop for his mom, and save the day. On a more realistic level, Joe tackles his fears by knowing the location of the light switch to the basement, where the caring grown-ups are when he needs them, and that his closet is relatively monster-free. Barrett's line drawings are rendered in ink and colored digitally. The crisp text is hand lettered. The graphic-novel format and retro atmosphere mimic the comic books whose heroes Joe emulates. Weitzman acknowledges the boy's feelings and provides imaginative solutions followed by more practical ones. An upbeat, humorous selection.—Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
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.