Joey: The Story of Joe Biden  – Jill Biden, illustrated by Amy June Bates

Joey: The Story of Joe Biden  – Jill Biden and Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Amy June Bates. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. 9781534480537

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

 Genre: picture book biography

 What did you like about the book? In this glowing overview, Joe Biden is given the picture book treatment, courtesy of his wife Jill (with help from noted biographer Kathleen Krull).  The book focuses primarily on Biden’s childhood and young adulthood; his popularity and athletic prowess depicted in contrast with the struggles he had with stuttering and the bullies who targeted him because of it.  Anecdotes from his youth and his college days serve to show how he decided to get involved in politics, and the portrayal of his tight-knit family growing up hints at how his well-known devotion to his children and grandchildren developed.  His political career is almost an afterthought, taking up only the last 4 page spreads, and the tragedy that so strongly shaped him in the early days in the Senate is not even mentioned.  The story concludes with the family’s decision that he should run for president in 2020.

Peppered with football analogies and so-called “Biden-isms,” this is a pleasant introduction to our 46th president that certainly shows him as a tough kid who had to overcome obstacles to arrive at his current station.  It is clear that the author is rather fond of him, so readers looking for an objective perspective might want to look elsewhere.  The watercolor illustrations are nicely detailed, and strike just the right wholesome tone for the warmth of the narrative.  Back matter is comprehensive, with a timeline (that does include the sad parts of Biden’s life), sources for quotations and further reading, and some delightful old photos from the family collection.   

Anything you did not like about the book?  no

 To whom would you recommend this book? A nice read aloud for grades 1-3, and children who are interested in presidents will enjoy learning about Joe Biden in this story.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Biography

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  no

 Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: 3/25/2021

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