Sparky! by Jenny Offill; illustrated by Chris Appelhans (2014)

[Published by Random House Kids]


As I hit the final month of this magical reviewing journey, I spent a little time reminiscing this morning about the variety of picture books that have crossed my path over the past year.

According to my slightly hit-and-miss method of tagging each book by its subjects, there are a couple of clear winners in terms of hot topics. Some picture books staples are, bedtime, birds, families, feelings, imagination, bears and pets.

Today’s pet story is original in that rather than featuring a cat or a dog, Sparky is a sloth. Probably less surprising is the fact that sloths are something of a challenge in the pet department. They don’t bark, or get into fights, or leave deposits on your front lawn, the problem is that they don’t do a whole lot of IMG_1872
anything. When you’re trying to show your pet off to the neighbours, and he just sleeps, it’s all a bit of a fizzer. What makes it worse is when your neighbour is Mary Potts, a high achieving stickler for the rules.

“We stood there for a while, watching him sleep. His fur ruffled gently in the breeze.”

“I feel sorry for you,” Mary said. “My cat can dance on her hind legs. And my parrot knows twenty words, including God and ice cream.

In spite of some great attendance at trick-training, Sparky’s showmanship never really makes an appearance. What this adorable, gentle story teaches us is that that’s okay.

The language, story and illustrations are beautiful and quirky. I loved it.

Check out Sparky! at Auckland Libraries.

Or buy Sparky! from Fishpond.


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