Groovy Joe adds another song to his repertoire in this third outing.
The guitar-strumming dog and his squirrel pal are back with an adaptation of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” Joe and the little rodent (who lies on Joe’s bed, with its own tiny pillow and blanket) greet the day, explore, laugh and play, and more over the course of this infectious picture book. Lichtenheld’s colored-pencil–and-watercolor illustrations are characteristically lively, bringing Groovy Joe’s world to life and presenting all sorts of animals ready to engage with the world around them and to encourage little readers to do the same. A recording can be downloaded at the publisher’s website. Characters are all lightly anthropomorphized, accessorized with the occasional canteen, backpack, or hat. As the text consists entirely of song lyrics, none of the animals (save for Joe) are specifically gendered. Such details as a rabbit imagining an enormous carrot as the animals plant a community garden and a family of frogs on a log joining in song with Groovy Joe—not to mention the squirrel’s Band-Aid held at the ready for Groovy Joe as he hugs a porcupine—will keep readers engaged, though there is no apparent overarching narrative storyline.
Third time’s the charm: Groovy Joe may give Pete the Cat a run for his money yet. (Picture book. 3-5)