Check It Out: There's nothing sinful about loving this sloth

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Review

“A Little Book of Sloth”

By Lucy Cooke; Margaret K. McElderry Books, unpaged

If you're concerned that I'm going to turn this week's column into a lecture about the evils of laziness, don't worry. Sloth may be a deadly sin for mankind, but ask a two- or three-toed folivore (the classification name for the mammal sloth) what he thinks about a life of inactivity, and he'll likely reply, albeit very slowly, "Life in the slow lane is the only way to go."

Sloths may not be on your top 10 list of cutest animals ever (heck, they may not even make it into the top 100) but once you read this book, I guarantee they'll climb up more than a few notches. As a matter of fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here — a very slothlike thing to do — and predict that "A Little Book of Sloth" will cause such delight that you'll hug yourself just like a sloth. I mean, let's be honest. Who can resist a bucket of sloths? Or a baby sloth named Mateo who loves to snuggle with Mr. Moo, a yellow and orange stuffed cow? As the author, Lucy Cooke, writes about super-cuddlicious Mateo, he "is so cute, he should come with a public health warning." Now that's what I call sloth-dorable!

This book may be written for kids, but such winsome photographs and likable text should not be missed by anyone who's young at heart. And there's an important story within the pages of this smile-maker. All of the sloths are from the Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, and many of them are being cared for at this facility because they're either injured or orphaned or both. Others have been rescued from poachers who tried to sell them as pets. Many of the orphan babies arrive at the sanctuary with broken bones — ouch! And since they don't have their mamas to cling to for warmth, special "onesies" created from sports socks are fitted to the little ones. How sweet is that?

Just wait till you read about their, um, odd bathroom habits (look out for the poo pole!). And prepare to be amazed by sloth factoids like these: wild sloths are actually green (thanks to algae and insects that live on their fur), and it takes four weeks for a sloth to digest one meal. I guess that means you won't be seeing any sloths hanging around fast-food joints! And when it comes to sloth beauty treatments at the sanctuary, hanging out to dry after special green-leaf tea baths literally means that wet sloths hang upside down on outdoor jungle gyms. The point is made that clothespins are unnecessary (definitely worth a giggle).

If you need a reason to smile, and/or you've been feeling a little guilty about your idle ways, please give this charmer a try. And be sure to check out the sanctuary's website, www.slothsanctuary.com, and Lucy Cooke's Sloth Appreciation Society at www.slothville.com. You just might find yourself falling in love with their "Wookie/pig" faces and "Mona Lisa smiles."

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.