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The Picture Book Buzz

Sloth to the Rescue - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

Did anyone really enjoy those dreaded "team projects"? Especially, the ones where the teacher picked the members, supposedly to play to each of your strengths. Where inevitably one or more didn't do their portion and someone else (read "you/me") had to pick up the slack.

Sometimes though, during a rare 'blue moon' a team gelled. Everyone worked together. No one stayed up till two in the morning alphabetizing the bibliography, making the poster board, or finishing the report. Then the teacher didn't seem quite so crazy or "mean."

What if one of the team members was slow? I mean V E R Y slow. And shy. Then you might have a team of rain forest animals on a quest. You could probably name a few characteristics of the peccary, boa, capuchin, and ocelot that would be beneficial in such an endeavor. But what about the sloth? How could slowness & shyness contribute to solving a quest?

Sloth to the Rescue

Author: Leanne Shirtliffe

Illustrator: Rob McClurkan

Publisher: Running Press Kids (2019)

Ages: 4-8



Acceptance, first day of school, individuality, shyness, and rain forest animals.

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

At the Rainforest Rescue Center, Sloth loves when Patti comes to visit. But when Patti forgets her class report, it's up to Sloth, with the help of his other (faster) rain-forest friends, to return Patti's notebook to her-at school! Will they be able to find her among all the other kids in a new environment? The first day of school can be scary-especially if you forget your summer assignment-but in Sloth to the Rescue, Sloth, Peccary, Boa, Capuchin, and Ocelot overcome their fears and realize that what makes them unique is what helps them fit right in!

Opening Lines:

Sloth loves everything about Patti's visits.

His favorite everything is how Patti isn't in a rush to see the big loud animals.

She isn't in a rush to do anything,

except sit by herself near Sloth's home away from home and pull out her notebook.

Why I liked the book:

I love how Leanne captured the slowness of a sloth in her text. On Saturday, Sloth noticed Patti's "vacation project" notebook sitting on the bench [page turn] and on Monday he "arrives at the notebook." He even thinks slowly - "Today. is. Patti's. first. day. of. school!" And he worries that if he leaves today - she'll "be in eighth grade by the time he arrives."

Text © Leanne Shirtliffe, 2019 . Image © Rob McClurkan, 2019.

Luckily, Sloth's friends agree to help. Using the unique characteristics of his friends, the animals set out to find Patti. Peccary searches the school yard (because she's good a forming lines), Boa searches the coat room (because he sheds his skin), Capuchin searches the classroom (because she's good at listening), and Ocelot searches the gym (because he can run fast).

I would have liked to attend this school. It's fun how, except for the crosswalk guard and a parent, no one seems to think twice about the animals being in the building. A fun refrain, "Nope, he thinks. No. Patti. here," will have the younger kids chorusing along with the reader.

Text © Leanne Shirtliffe, 2019 . Image © Rob McClurkan, 2019.

Ultimately, sloth's slow nature, and a bit of yoga, allows him to find Patti. Rob's bright, expressive illustrations add to the fun of the quest (such as Sloth and Boa hanging about in the closet). The feel-good ending celebrates individuality, especially the qualities of shy, quieter introverts and dawdlers. A brief back matter provides information on the animals, suggestions for dealing with nerves, and a bit about rescue centers. Aimed at younger kids, this is a fun book to start discussions on developing different coping mechanisms, individuality, contributing to a team, animal rescue centers, and even rain forest animals.


- make a paper monster, creature, or rainbow and practice deep breathing. Or try a couple of other deep breathing exercises - (;

- write a story or draw a picture of something special about you that you could use in a hunt for a friend or a team project;

- what are some ways/things you use to calm down? A calm down spot or a coping toolbox? (;

- learn about an animal rescue center near you - either one for cats and dogs or a wild animal rescue center. What animals do they help and how can kids help out?

If you missed Leanne Shirtliffe's interview on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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