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

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend
by Dawn Quigley; illus. by Tara Audibert
Primary    Heartdrum/HarperCollins    80 pp.    g
5/21    978-0-06-301537-1    $15.99
Paper ed.  978-0-06-301538-8    $4.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-301539-5    $4.99

This series opener introduces Jo Jo Makoons Azure, a rambunctious first grader with “strong lungs” (according to her mom) and a wish to make more friends. In eight brief yet eventful chapters, we follow this seven-year-old ­Everygirl through a relatable and entertaining series of misadventures and misunderstandings — over everything from rhyming words, to teachers (“Jim” is astonishingly not the P. E. teacher’s first name), to Little Shell ­Elementary School’s yearbook cover. Through it all, the first-person narrative is consistently engaging, with just the right touch of primary-grade silliness to balance out Jo Jo’s fears about friendship. Will Mimi, her cat and “home best friend,” deflate like a balloon when she gets her shots? And why hasn’t Fern, her “school best friend,” been sitting with her at lunch lately? Throughout, contemporary Native culture takes center stage: Jo Jo’s multigenerational family lives on the fictional Pembina Ojibwe reservation; some Ojibwe and Michif words are phonetically spelled within the text in a manner consistent with Jo Jo’s hilariously frank voice (“If you can say ­Tyrannosaurus rex, you can say nindizhinikaaz [“my name is…” in Ojibwe]”). Audibert’s cartoony illustrations add humorous layers to this exemplary transitional reader.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sam Bloom

Sam Bloom is a programming librarian at the Covington Branch of the Kenton County Public Library in northern Kentucky.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more


We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.