Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Jenny Offill
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2014   ISBN: 978-0375870231

A girl wants a pet but her mother does not want a bird, or a bunny or a seal in the house. In fact the only kind of pet she will let her daughter have is one that “doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.” Now, most people would give up on the idea of getting a pet after hearing this, but the girl doesn’t. She goes to see the librarian, “who knows everything in the world,” and the librarian gives her a book to look at. In the book the girl finds out about sloths, animals which barely move, eat leaves, and drink dew.

   The girl orders a sloth and though her mother is not happy when the animal arrives in the mail, there is nothing she can do because the sloth meets all her requirements; it  does not need to be walked, bathed or fed. What the girl soon realizes is that the sleepy, slow moving animal does not do much of anything. Sparky does not play games and when his owner tries to teach him tricks…well…things don’t quite work out as planned.

   Many of us are told, as children, that we can’t force a person to change so that they become what we want them to become. We have to accept them as they are. Many of us don’t listen to this advice. In this story the girl really wants a cute, playful, trainable pet, and what she gets is a sloth called Sparky. Her journey with her new friend does not turn out as expected, but she gets something priceless all the same.

   With its wonderful characters and deliciously expressive illustrations, this book will charm readers of all ages, many of whom will become firm sloth fans.