We were lucky enough to request and receive a copy of If I Had A Sleepy Sloth from the publishers, which arrived with an unexpected bonus copy of If I Had a Dinosaur too! All views and opinions are my own.
We love both Samuel Drew Hasn’t a Clue and A Possum’s Tail by Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow, so I was very excited when these arrived in the post.
Although If I Had a Dinosaur has been out for a while, I’ve somehow missed it, so it was a lovely surprise when Thames Hudson sent both books.
Both feature the same little girl dreaming of a new pet – first a very big one and second a very chilled out one! She takes us through lots of funny, charming and appealing scenarios showing what it would be like, why it would be brilliant, and what they’d do together.
I also thought it was really lovely to see the careful consideration the girl gives to how she’d need to look after her pets too – feeding them, walking them and grooming them, with often very funny consequences that are depicted brilliantly with carefully chosen phrases and lots of visual humour.
They have such a wonderful voice and sense of fun, it’s easy to picture a chlld imagining all these wonderful times with an unusual pet, and I loved the inclusion of the classic ‘pet at school’ scenario too!
We’re big fans of Alex Barrow’s illustrations from the duo’s previous books, and these retain that style but feel brighter and bolder. This matches the stories and their sense of fun so well and definitely went down a treat with Peapod who has pored over them repeatedly.
Keep your eye on this irate lifeguard, he comes up later on…
In If I Had a Sleepy Sloth there’s lots of facts about the creatures dropped into the story too which I thought was brilliant and done really lightly and with a sense of fun.
Going hand in hand with that sense of fun is a warning – if you’re not a fan of toilet humour, these may not be for you (though really if you are reading picture books, I’m pretty sure there’s already a healthy dose of toilet humour in your life!) Dinosaur does an ENORMOUS poo and sloth wees on that angry lifeguard’s head! Both of which are sure to tickle the funny bones of small children everywhere!
Indeed, Peapod’s favourite page is the one in which our unfortunate lifesaver gets a soaking. He’s too little to get the wee joke, but thinks the picture is brilliant and I made the mistake of doing a funny fist-shake-and-cross-noise while reading it the first time and he now delights in pointing at the picture and then looking at his dad and I expectantly!
I also really like the sense of home and family in the books. Many of the pictures feature scenes of family life and, as well as bringing lots of humour to the story, they feel comforting and happy and secure.
Even the endpapers are gorgeous and Peapod loves them – his favourite thing is to pretend to count all the sloths!
While he loves both of them, Peapod’s favourite is definitely Sloth and, while I love them both too, I think I have to agree (I also love that there’s a copy of If I Had a Dinosaur and a Samuel Drew toy in the bedroom picture in If I Had a Sleepy Sloth!).
Regardless of preferences though, they are both excellent – funny, warm and great to read with hugely appealing and engaging illustrations. We’ll be reading them often for some time yet and I have no complaints about that!