Our Favorite Picture Books – Tiptoe Joe

You know when your kid finds a book that they
want you to read over and over? Recently, one of my 5-year-old twins latched
onto the book Tiptoe Joe by Ginger
Foglesong Gibson. 
I totally haven’t minded. When a book opens with a cute rhyme

“Tiptoe fast, tiptoe slow. Say hello to Tiptoe Joe” 

across three richly
illustrated pages, I know I’m going to have fun reading aloud.

The Story

The story continues with Tiptoe Joe the bear
gathering all the local animals. It begins 

“Donkey, Donkey, come with me. I
know something you should see.” 

Then this structure repeats for five more
animals. My girls have started reading along with me, so I love that the
refrain is made up entirely of early sight words plus the name of the animal
that’s illustrated on that page.
Each animal joins with its own onomatopoeic
word. So by the end there is a line of animals following the bear, making the


I love that these are all
phonetically simple consonant blends words that my girls know how to read with
As the story continues, the bear shushes the
animals and implores them to tiptoe quietly. The last page is my daughter’s
favorite. (Spoiler alert!) The procession of animals arrives at the bear den,
and they learn what it is they should see, and why they needed to be quiet:
mama bear is cradling two sweetly sleeping bear cubs.

Extension Activities

If you like extending stories with activities
and interactive reading, I’ve got some ideas for you on this one.

1. After you’ve read it a few times, invite your child to recite the
refrain with you as you read.

2. Make up simple motions to go with each animal sound.

3. Study the map on the title page and find where each animal joined
the group.

4.  Read a simple nonfiction book about bears.

5. Read nonfiction books about other animal babies, such as Welcome to the World, Zooborns!

6. Pair this book with another picture book that has a quest but no
map, and work with your child to create a simple map. One book that might work
is Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson.

7. My favorite idea: if
you have a baby, read this book while the baby is napping. Then recreate the
story by pretending you and the older sibling are bears. Pick up stuffed
animals along the way, and tiptoe in for a visit to the nursery.
Source: Omer Ziv/ flickr

Gift Idea

Wouldn’t it be a great big sibling gift for
a family that’s just had a new baby? 
It also makes a fun gift for twins – my
girls adored seeing that the bear cubs at the end were twins.

I hope that you enjoy Tiptoe Joe as much as we did. Our library had this one, so maybe yours does
too. If you choose to order any of the books through the links on this page,
Amazon will pay me a small fee (out of their pocket, not yours), which will
help support this blog.

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