“Tiptoe fast, // tiptoe slow. / Say hello to Tiptoe Joe.”
Big bear Tiptoe Joe sneaks through the forest in his red high-top sneakers. Why so quiet? “Donkey, Donkey come with me. / I know something you should see.” Donkey clop clops after Joe, and they continue through the woods. They pick up Rabbit, who follows: thump, thump. They come upon Turkey, who follows: flap, flap. As they progress, they find…Moose (thud, thud), Owl (swish, swish) and Beaver (slap, slap). “Tell us, tell us. Tiptoe Joe. / What’s the secret? Let us know,” they repeatedly implore. With each animal added, the group becomes more and more curious. They follow him up his mountain and…“Tiptoe, tiptoe, softly creep. // Here’s my secret, fast asleep”—his two baby cubs. Gibson’s rhythmic text with its repetition and onomatopoetic accents makes for a great read-aloud and a good bedtime story. Audiences will memorize it quickly and be “reading” it to themselves before long. Rankin’s watercolor illustrations of slightly anthropomorphized animals (each animal has one piece of clothing à la Joe’s shoes) are charming in their enthusiasm (Joe) and their curiosity (the rest of the forest denizens).
This beguiling, cumulative woodland tale will make a great addition to bedtime routines. (Picture book. 2-5)