The Lazy Friend

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High in the canopy, Sloth, Snake, Frog and Toucan live together, but whilst the others amuse themselves by playing cards, Sloth sleeps! Even when a lumberjack fells the tree they live in, Sloth sleeps on to the horror of his friends who make a hasty retreat. Snake slithers to the rescue, sneaking aboard the truck carrying his friend and his erstwhile home in it. Can Snake rescue Sloth and get them both safely back home?

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I bought this beautiful, wordless picture book when I went to the South Ken Kids Fest a few weeks ago and completely fell in love with Sloth and his friends. Having my book signed by Ronan Badel was also a huge treat and I was stunned by the amazing picture that he drew/ painted for me. It was an absolute delight to watch the skill with which he worked!

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The story is a simple one and the lack of words is perfect for encouraging children to notice details and elaborate on the tale for themselves. The humour of Sloth calmly sleeping through all the adventures he and Snake encounter on their way back home is underlined by the wonderful range of expressions shown on Snake’s face as he alone is aware of the perils they face from the angry crocodiles, the plummeting waterfalls and rickety rope bridge. Even when their tree disappears, Snake is there to act as a branch for his friend to cling to.

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As well as offering the perfect opportunity for collaborative story telling, developing vocabulary, describing settings and developing ideas about characters, ‘The Lazy Friend’ also lends itself to practising some grammar skills (particularly the use of capital letters for names!). Speech bubbles could be added to the pictures and these then be ‘translated’ into punctuated speech. Considered choice of speech verbs/ adverbs could be encouraged by role play to explore how and why things might be said.

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The illustrations could also be used to encourage artwork- for developing characters and settings- as well as enjoying exploring pen and ink. Toucan and Frog’s looks of sorrow as their friends go off into the unknown and their joy on their return are beautifully captured!

Discussions about loss of habitat could also stem from enjoying this story. It could also encourage research about animals which might be less generally well known. Poaching and the cutting down of the red mangrove trees in which the pygmy three toed sloth live make it hard for these sloths to survive and the story might encourage awareness of their plight and lead children to take action.

‘The Lazy Friend’ is a lovely book and one to be enjoyed again and again!

The Lazy Friend Ronan Badel

Gecko Press ISBN: 978-1927271414