Backhoe Joe by Lori Alexander and Illustrated by Craig Cameron


One day, while collecting a few rocks, Nolan comes across a stray backhoe. Nolan has always, always, always, wanted a pet backhoe.  Nolan names him Joe and brings him home with him.  He has a bit of a hard time training Joe and his parents aren’t so sure that they’re ready to have a pet backhoe — but Nolan is determined.  Nolan works hard with Joe and successfully trains him! As they’re heading home though, they come across a Missing Backhoe sign and Nolan realizes that Joe does belong to someone.  What will Nolan do?  How does it end???  For at least my four-year-old boy — I’m telling you — the suspense in Backhoe Joe is INTENSE!

This book has it all — the joy of finding a pet backhoe, the drama of training it, the elation of being successful, the heartbreak of finding out Joe belongs to another, the bittersweetness of doing the right thing, and the hope and resolution of new beginnings.  Whew!

My son is absolutely enamored with this book.  He has carried it with him from room to room since it arrived.  He told several random strangers that he got Backhoe Joe — “and it is perfect!”

Ages 3 – 8. HarperCollins.  November 2014. 40 pages. ISBN:  978-0062250155. Fiction.

Where to Get it:

You Should Read Backhoe Joe because:

  • You or someone you know loves construction with a passion!
  • “It’s the perfect book!” -My four-year-old son
  • It delves deep into the psyche of construction-vehicle lovers everywhere and gives them exactly what they want — an adorable and lovable backhoe.
  • It has friendly and happy illustrations that adeptly anthropomorphize construction vehicles.  (Is this what my son sees when he looks at a construction vehicle?)
  • It’s better than a story about a boy that finds a puppy — because it is about a boy that finds a backhoe.
  • It’s very funny.  I was surprised at how much I laughed.  My son didn’t laugh, he was too enamored with the book.  This book is Very. Serious. Business. for him.
  • It’s a great way to talk about why you can’t have a dog (or cat, or horse, etc.) in terms that the resident construction-vehicle enthusiast can understand.
  • It’s a great way to talk about what to do when you find something that isn’t yours.
  • It’s simply a great book.  It is fun to read even if you’re not quite the construction-vehicle enthusiast that your child might be.
  • I love the surprise ending.  Don’t peek.  Seriously.  It’s worth it.

Author/Illustrator Websites:

  • Author – Lori Alexander:
  • Illustrator – Craig Cameron: 
  • Publisher – HarperCollins: (See a preview of the book here)

More Reviews of this Book:

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received. Well… except there were some foam rocks that came with the book — which are surprisingly fun.  There were two bookmarks and a sticker as well.  But that’s it.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


    • It is my pleasure! Backhoe Joe is fantastic.

      I’ve read so many construction picture books — I thought I had read it all. Yours was such a pleasant surprise. Thank you!

      Oh, today my son asked me what we would do if we found a stray backhoe. 🙂 I told him we’d have to wait and see.


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