cover image Sloth's Shoes

Sloth's Shoes

Jeanne Willis. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, $13.95 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-916291-78-5

This off-beat British import relates how a slow-moving sloth was a year late for his birthday party and thus had outgrown his main present, the shoes of the title. But while the book lacks a satisfying storyline, Willis and Ross (who joined talents for The Pet Person) draw readers in with playful language and humorous ink-and-watercolor illustrations. Willis's alliterative absurdity at times recalls Dr. Seuss, as when ""A Boomslang boomed from a branch below."" The ""Potteroos,"" which look like moles with long noses, stitch ""Such beautiful shoes with vine-twine ties/ --His favorite shape! His perfect size!--/ And lined with softest, moth-proof moss/ And sewn with skeins of spiders' floss."" Ross's animated animal party is a gleeful assortment of woodland animals in formal dress, dancing and sipping from tiny martini glasses. But the premise of a no-show birthday sloth ultimately keeps the amusing moments from adding up to an engaging whole. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)