By: Janet Piehl
Publisher: Lerner Classroom
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
Sometimes a sloth is hard to see when it is hanging in a tree because “its fur looks a lot like the tree branch where it hangs.” Sloths are either gray or brown and have long shaggy fur. If you look closely at a sloth, it sometimes looks green. That is because “tiny plants often grow” in their fur. Because the sloth moves so slowly, the algae can grow quite well on its fur. This green color enables the animal to blend in “with the leaves in the rain forest.” When a sloth is in a tree, it will hang upside down by using its long hook-like claws that are growing “on the ends of its toes.” All sloths have “three toes on their back feet.” The toes on their front feet can vary and so we have both two-toed sloths and three-toed sloths.
These very unusual looking creatures live in trees and are known to “sleep most of the time.” Their diet consists of “leaves, fruit, bark, and twigs.” They pull a branch toward their mouth and nibble on its leaves. When they want to move, they swing to another branch similar to the way a monkey does. When they do this, they can be assured of a fresh supply of food. They “may also eat the algae from their fur.” About once a week the sloth will climb down the tree to find another one. In this book you will also learn how babies are raised, you’ll learn how well they can swim, and what kinds of predators it has. Do you think a sloth can walk upright? You may have to read this book to find out.
Many young children love to learn about “different” animals, ones that are not likely to be seen in their own surroundings. Each page in the main text is accompanied by a photograph of a sloth or, in some instances, that of a predator. The emergent reader can comfortably tackle this text with a bit of assistance with only a few words. This is an introductory, nonfiction text about the sloth and does not explain that it is a mammal or discuss what a mammal is. It’s a perfect book to introduce the young student to animal science and get them excited about nonfiction. In the back of the book is a “Sloth Range Map,” a “Sloth Diagram,” an index, a glossary, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is a fascinating introduction to the sloth, a very unusual, yet very appealing animal.