cover image Sloth Went

Sloth Went

Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. by Benson Shum. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0245-2

Reading Lehrhaupt’s (Please, Open This Book!) afterword proves essential to fully enjoying this potty tale. It reveals that sloths’ digestive systems are—no surprise—slow, that the creatures only need to poop once a week, and that they are instinctively driven to do so on the ground, far below their safe home in the forest canopy. Representing hygiene habits in the extreme, this information forges a critical bond between the protagonist, an anxious little sloth, and readers, who will understand that pooping to others’ expectations is a big deal. “I don’t think I’m gonna make it,” the baby sloth tells various forest friends while inching anxiously down the tree. “Just listen to your body and it will all work out,” advises Frog, one of the sloth’s many cheerleaders. Watercolor and ink cartooning by Shum (Holly’s Day at the Pool) is good humored but never at the expense of empathy; reassuring, sunny washes of color in a range of perspectives and composition styles build momentum, then portray the deed through four realistically funny grimaces in close-up, followed by a well-deserved touchdown dance. Families facing similar toilet trepidation will find plenty of sympathy and wisdom in these pages. Ages 3–6. [em]Author’s agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Teresa Kietlinski. (June) [/em]