Gecko Press

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


All 80 titles for the six categories of our long list have now been reviewed! Each and every one a fantastic book, highly recommended by JAB and the NSTAB team.

The short list will be announced on the 8th September. Votes from the panel are already coming in so here's a little reminder of the twelve fabulous books on the Read Aloud Category Long List.


Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow- Jessica Townsend (Orion)


Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure – Alex T Smith (Hodder)


Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: The Case of the Missing Hippo- Laura James, illustrated by Emily Fox (Bloomsbury)


The Chocolate Factory Ghost- David O'Connell and Clare Powell (Bloomsbury)


You Can't Make Me Go to Witch School- Em Lynas, illustrated by Jamie Littler (Nosy Crow)


Yours Sincerely Giraffe-Megumi Iwasa & Jun Takabatake (Gecko Press)


Codebusters- Dan Metcalf, illustrated by Gary Cherrington (Bloomsbury)

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Witch for a Week- Kaye Umansky, illustrated by Ashley King (Simon and Schuster)


Kat Wolfe Investigates- Lauren St John (Macmillan)

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The Book Case - Dave Shelton (David Fickling)

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The Return of the Railway Children- Lou Kuenzler (Scholastic)

Of these twelve terrific titles, which four will become the 2018 NSTBA Read Aloud short list?

LONG LIST REVIEW: Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

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Tell me, how do you spend your days?

Do you have good friends? Or are you all alone?

Do you have lots and lots to do? Or are you feeling bored?

Let me introduce you to Giraffe.

Giraffe is bored- as usual- so when he notices a new mail service by Pelican (who is also bored!), he decides to send a letter. And this is the start of a delightful new pen-pal friendship, full of mis-understandings!

The pen-pal Giraffe has found is Penguin. Not knowing what a penguin looks like, Giraffe, quite naturally, has many questions. Penguin also has queries about what Giraffe tells him about himself. What is a neck? And does Penguin have one?

In the end, Giraffe decides to dress up like his new friend and go to visit. He tries his best, but the results are comical to say the least, showing how easily people can mis-interpret information and misunderstand each other.

This is a great book, offering plenty to discuss and plenty to laugh about. There is a wonderful directness and simplicity about the writing which is very appealing and the line drawings add to this perfectly.

As well as being a great read aloud- perfect for sharing- this book would work so well as a book to inspire further work. There are many writing opportunities here- and not just letter writing! Narrative, poetry, persuasive, discussion, journalistic, recount, reports... so many possibilities! It lends itself to PSHE work and in today's digital world, could inspire a pen pal project- real letters!


Yours Sincerely, Giraffe      Megumi Iwasa, illustrated by Jun Takabatake

Gecko Press    ISBN: 978-1927271872