Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend

­Heartdrum. (Jo Jo: Bk. 1). May 2021. 80p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780063015371.
Gr 2-5–Seven-year-old Jo Jo Makoons Azure lives on a fictional version of an Ojibwe reservation, and likes to do things a little differently than everyone else. When her cat Mimi sleeps on her feet every night and makes them too warm, Jo Jo solves the problem by cutting the toes off all of her nighttime socks. Her idea of Language Arts is drawing pictures with Ojibwe captions for Teacher: “language + arts!” Readers follow Jo Jo through a myriad of first grade adventures involving her family, classmates, and cat Mimi. Even though Mimi is her best friend at home, Jo Jo is worried about her friendship with Fern when the girl stops doing school best friend things like saving her a seat at lunch. The story playfully captures age-appropriate concerns and interests, as young Jo Jo navigates family traditions and shifting friendships. Audibert’s fun illustrations utilize big expressions to convey the book’s gentle high jinks and Jo Jo’s rambunctious, carefree nature. Quigley includes “Jo Jo’s Glossary” and an author’s note for further explanation about Ojibwe language and culture. The story is interspersed with Ojibwe and Michif words; Jo Jo even explains that if readers can pronounce Tyrannosaurs rex, they should be able to say these words as well.
VERDICT A sweet, slice-of-life series debut. Readers will love Jo Jo and want to be her friend.

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