Jack Tickle (Illustrator)
My youngest daughter recently brought this book home for us to read together. She loved it so much we read it a number of times within a few days. When preparing to write a review I discovered that there 6 editions of this book from 5 different publishers of imprints, that have been released between 2003 and 2010. And for a picture book of 32 pages it really has some great lessons.
The first few times my daughter and I read this she just thought the story was funny. It starts with different animals in the jungle all going about their own business. Cheetah on a treadmill, Elephant lifting weights, Kangaroo bouncing on a trampoline and monkey swinging. But soon they all notice Sloth is just sleeping. So they sort of gang up on him and try and pressure him into being more active. The Sloth being smarter than he looks; and he turns the tables on them, by suggesting that each of the other animals do a different animals activity. They all fail, and each getting more upset than the one before. Soon they all get mad at Sloth and he points of that he was just laying there.
Having talked this over with my daughter after about the 10th reading she realizes that we each have different strengths and talents and that is part of what makes us who we are. She also realized that trying to be someone else is not going to end well. She also picked up on the group gaining up on Sloth as a kind of bullying. And that they laughed at or were rude when others failed at different tasks, which is not ok. She realized that most of the animals were bucket dippers not bucket fillers(a concept used in primary grades at our school). And that Sloth helps them realize the mistakes they were making.
The illustrations by Jack Tickle are wonderful. His use of predominately soft tones and a broad palate bring the jungle scenes and animals to life. And children will love the pictures.
To be honest the first time through I was not as impressed but the more we read this book and talked about it the more impressed I became. That my 6 year old picked up all of these lessons by herself speaks to the quality of the book.
Overall a really good book with an awesome message, but without being preachy.