Nine-year-old Eli comes from a long tradition of cattle farmers, and he is bursting with pride when he is finally given a calf of his very own. Little Joe, an Angus beef calf with an impressive pedigree, is a real beauty, if a little skittish, and it isn’t long before he and his young master have forged a sweet relationship. Under the tutelage of his grandfather Joe (the calf’s namesake), Eli learns how to take care of and train his animal, also learning some big lessons about the miracles of nature and farm life along the way.
Looming on the horizon is the upcoming state fair, where Eli just knows he and Little Joe can come in first place and win his gruff father’s approval if they train as hard as they can. With a blue ribbon, though, comes a big problem: winning an award at the fair means that his bull will certainly be purchased at the beef auction. His father has always told him not to name his calf, not to get attached, but Eli can’t help loving Little Joe. How could he possibly say goodbye to his friend? This is a charming story of fathers and sons, of a boy’s deep connection with nature, and the ins and outs of farming. Animal lovers will especially like Little Joe’s gentle realistic writing and lovely illustrations. 192 pages.
Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian.