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Sandbox Book Club Recommendation #8

Joey and Jet by James Yang



Can you tell someone needed a nap?


I wasn't going to write about this book today, but when Jax pulled it out as one of his pre-naptime reading requests, I thought to myself, Ah!  Joey and Jet!  A big favorite.  Worthy of recognition.  So I changed my course and went this route instead.  You'll be happy I did.



I didn't love J and J at first.  I bought it at a used bookstore and really only did because I had a credit and they had a pretty meager children's book department.  But I don't complain about any books that come my way free of charge, especially picture books.  I wasn't thrilled because I will fully admit that I am an illustration snob and if a book doesn't grab me right off the bat, I move along.  I totally judge a book by its cover.  So I brought J and J home with me with perhaps less than my usual enthusiasm, showed it to Jax who was too young for it at the time, and it proceeded to collect dust on our upper bookshelf, where the less favorite books live.


Fast forward a few months.  Jax matures a bit and is ready for picture books.  We pull out Joey and Jet, and to my surprise, it was a huge hit!  This was one of those we-have-to-read-this-book-every-day-for-a-week type of books.  It's about a boy, Joey, who plays fetch with his dog, Jet.  The story follows Jet as he chases after the ball and has to maneuver all kinds of locations: over the roofs, among the birds, across the street, etc.  This may be unexciting for us adults, but it actually teaches a valuable lesson that we take for granted.  Prepositions. 


You may be groaning inwardly at this word.  You may have had an English teacher who forced you to memorize the entire list of prepositions and are running through them in your head as you read this (above, amid, among, below, beneath, between...).  She probably also made you memorize "O Captain! My Captain!" and the first paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities.  I can generalize about English teachers because I am one in another life (one that exists pre- and post-babies).  I am also not a stickler for grammar, so please don't leave me a comment telling me I had a dangling participle or anything; it just doesn't matter to me that much.  But whether or not we hate grammar, it is important to sneak it in there as much as we can in our kids' early years, because they will inevitable learn to hate it, too, at least in middle school, and try to rebel against learning it.  So the earlier you can teach kids the basic concept of prepositions, aka words that show location, the better.



This is where Joey and Jet are great.  Jet chases that darn ball all over creation but not just in the street, in the cafe, in the hole.  Yang used preposition to explain the ball's location, so the kids are using words like above, through, into, out of, over, between.  Not such a big deal to you right now, but imagine you have a toddler and a new baby.  You're busy nursing the new baby and cannot get up to help Toddler look for his or her favorite toy.  If you can say things like, "It's between the pillows on the couch." or "It's under the toy box," suddenly you're not trying to rifle through a toy bin to find said important toy, new baby stilled latched on and dangling in midair as you try to satisfy both children at once.  Suddenly, you have a new appreciation for prepositions.  They help children become more independent as they can be more descriptive and accurate as to the locations of things.  And as we all know, a toddler who is not being understood is more exhausting and frustrating than ever and can ruin a perfectly nice afternoon.



My one complaint about Joey and Jet is that it says, "Book One of their adventures."  This was written in 2004.  They have had one other adventure in space, but that's it.  I want more adventures, Mr. Yang!  You've had 7 years!  Let's get on it with it!  Especially if you can keep sneaking grammar tidbits in there and make my job a little easier, I'd appreciate it. 


So if you hate teaching grammar as much as I do (as a English teacher-on-hiatus, no less!), get yourself a copy of Joey and Jet and make the concept of prepositions a little easier on yourself.  Plus, it's a cute book about a boy and a dog.  Prepositions or no, who doesn't love that?


If you'd like to read more of my book recommendations at my blog, click here.


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