The Sloth Who Came to Stay – Children’s Book Week Review

Cover Image for The Sloth Who Came to Stay
The sloth who came to stay by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Vivienne To.

This book was selected as a notable title for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Awards – Picture Book of the Year, and also shortlisted in the Crichton Award for New Illustrators category. It is the story of a very speedy family. In fact…

Amy’s family was the Speediest family in the world. They walked fast, drove fast, shopped fast, ate fast. There was never any time to talk or play or laugh and laze…

I have to start by saying that I am amazed that this is Vivienne To’s first stab at illustrating a children’s book. I love her ability to capture the characters and give them such expression and personality! Of course, Margaret Wild has written a beautiful story, easy to engage with and typeset beautifully, but the true hero for me in this story is (of course) the sloth!

When Amy brought home a sloth from the park one day, her Speedy family had to adjust their pace to fit his. Even though I always swore that we weren’t going to be an overly scheduled family, the reality for us is that life is typically more hectic than I had wished, and this gorgeous book is the perfect reminder to slow down, enjoy the simple moments and take a calmer approach to life. Like a sloth. And truly, isn’t there just a little sloth in all of us?

“Where on Earth did you find him?” Dad asked.

“Hanging from a tree in the park,” Amy said.

The team of Margaret Wild and Vivienne To tackle one of the big issues in Children’s literature with pizzazz – both creator and character gender imbalance. Sure, dad and the sloth are male, but Amy and her mum are both shown as strong lead characters and this is a lovely addition to the slim selection of female lead books in the current best selling range of titles. Margaret Wild is an absolute hero in the world of children’s literature in my opinion, blazing the path that inspires self confidence from women authors across Australia (many would have grown up reading her titles!). Vivienne To likewise encourages junior illustrators to reach for the stars, with experience in the tough animated and feature film industry as an art director and now transitioning to book illustrating.

Sloth had a long leisurely bath with lots of bubbles, a purple duck, and a red boat.

That purple duck becomes a lovely mini-focal point through the remainder of the book, and my 4 year old loves to point him out to me on each page. This is a lovely example of Vivienne To’s ability to capture a child’s mind with her illustrations.

I adore this book, so much so that when I first read it – in Myer last Christmas while taking a break from pounding the malls (how good is that toy section next to the books at Garden City!?), I immediately purchased a copy for my 3 year old niece as a Christmas gift. I hope that my brother and sister in law appreciated the sentiment, it honestly wasn’t a dig at their busy lives!

Sloth stayed for three glorious weeks.

Not only would I encourage you all to borrow this book from the library, if you love it as much as I do, it may be worth seeking out a copy to keep for your own family.