Bookshelf Picture Books

The Lazy Friend


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?


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!


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.


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.


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

Sing To the Moon


Dreams are wonderful things and one little boy wishes he could reach the stars and ride a supernova to Mars. But waking on a rainy day, he is faced with the reality of heavy skies and charcoal clouds. Finding Jjajji waiting for him in the kitchen, they spend the day together, doing lots of chores and whilst they work, Jjajji shares many stories with him- of his childhood friend, of climbing trees, of his own father- and then as the day ends, they enjoy stories from books of ‘ lost cities and heaps of gold…African kingdoms and sights to behold.’ And before he knows what has happened, the rainy day is over and the little boy realises that no adventure could compare with being with the grandfather that he loves.


‘Sing to the Moon’ beautifully explores the relationship between a little boy and his grandfather. The illustrations are wonderful, showing the power of imagination and the warmth between them. The story is set in Uganda which (according to the notes at the back of the book) has two rainy seasons when there is a lot of rain. Living in England where there are many rainy days, the story reminds me of days when my boy was little and we had to be endlessly inventive with the games we played and the stories we created.


A beautiful story for sharing- perhaps on a rainy day- ‘Sing to the Moon’ is written in in rhyming text and reminds us of the importance of spending time with family, valuing them and listening to the stories they have to tell us.

Sing to the Moon

Nansubuga Nagadya Isdahl and Sarah van Doorn

Lantana Publishing ISBN: 978-1911373391

Little Wise Wolf


Little Wolf is so busy reading and learning that he does not want to be disturbed. When his friends ask for help, Little Wolf doesn’t have the time or the inclination to support them. However, when a message comes from the king and Little Wolf is in need, his friends are there to support him and so Little Wise Wolf gains a valuable lesson about learning from his friends as well as from books, making time for both.

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This book is produced to the high quality we have come to expect from Book Island books. Thick, silky pages in a luxurious hard back cover. The illustrations in this wise tale are charming; soft, muted colours give a gentle, almost dream-like quality to each spread. Little Wise Wolf’s red boots add a flash of colour as he makes his way on his long journey to see the king. Just beautiful!

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We all get caught up in things; I know teaching can completely take over my world! For me, this tale is a reminder that we should pause and take time for friends and family, that we should listen to each other and take every opportunity to learn and share.

‘Little Wise Wolf’ would be a brilliant book to use in class. The artistic style would be wonderful to explore, building up backgrounds using charcoal, stamps and adding details in pen and ink, pencil or paint. The story itself is great as a starting point for discussion and also lends itself to many writing opportunities.

Little Wise Wolf

Gijs van der Hammen, illustrated by Hanneke Siemensma

Book Island ISBN: 978--1911496120