In Fearless Joe Dearborne by Lisa Whitney Mitchell, Joe finds it hard to live his life without risking it. He thinks nothing of running into a burning house to save a puppy, or entering a dark cave to rescue his friend’s dad’s autographed baseball. All of that changes when he gets it into his head to pick up a poisonous snake and gets bit. He survives, but something’s changed; Joe is no longer fearless. When Joe’s dad goes out of town and he must stay with his aunt’s housekeeper’s cousin, Mrs. Chill, Joe is afraid to stand up to her. Will Joe ever find his fearlessness? Is there a difference between being brave and being fearless? Joe spends the remainder of the novel in search of these very answers.
I liked Fearless Joe Dearborne. It was a quick and easy read, suitable for middle-grade readers. The characters were quirky and interesting–especially Mrs. Chill and Joe’s Aunt P,–and the situations were humourous, which kept me interested. Though Joe is no longer fearless in his mind, he still gets himself into situations where the reader wonders if this is where he regains his fearless status, something we are kept guessing until the end: what will happen that will help Joe to regain his fearless mojo, which is enough suspense to keep the reader reading.
Though it’s been a while since I’ve read a middle-grade novel (not since my own high-school age children were middle-grade), I think they would have enjoyed Fearless Joe’s adventure. pre-teens are sure to get the message within–that you don’t have to be fearless to be brave.
Mama Bear give this book