Review: Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable
Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths
By Graham Annable
First Second (Macmillan)
Out April 10, 2018
I eat the same thing every day for breakfast and lunch. If you know me, you might have heard me talking about this. Do I ever yearn to break out of this cocoon of mundanity to experience more of what life has to offer? When it comes to breakfast and lunch, nah, I’m good. This is to say that I could very much relate to Peter and Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths, a winning graphic novel all about the cocoon of mundanity (and – this is the part I don’t quite relate to – how sometimes you have to break out of it).
Peter and Ernesto are sloths who have never left their tree. They are content to gaze up and “cloud picture” all day long. They love their piece of sky. But cloud picturing leads Ernesto to a realization: what about the other pieces of sky out there? Against Peter’s discouragements, Ernesto does something unthinkable – he climbs to the forest floor and sets out on his own. Peter, against his better judgement, soon follows, hoping to coax his friend back to the safety of their tree.
The plot refuses to be bogged down with the extraneous, choosing to efficiently tell the tale of two friends on mirror-image journeys into the unknown. A streak of warmth runs throughout, making it easy to root for the main characters. The humor is so light that it often floats away, leaving a general haze of brightness and good cheer.
In describing Annable’s art style I keep circling around the word “friendly” so I’m just going to settle on that description. The artwork is friendly. Soft lines create simple, effective backgrounds and big-eyed characters full of expression. Few can draw a worried face on par with Annable, an expression that Peter often wears on the journey to find his friend.
Do I have any qualms? Well, the sloths run. On one hand, I think “Who cares?” and “Hey, the sloths talk too – you gonna raise a fuss about that?” but on the other hand, I would say a sloth’s defining characteristic is that they are slow, so having running sloths is a bit like having ostriches who fly. Does it spoil the book for me? No. Will it spoil the book for young readers? Same.
So perhaps I can learn something from this book. Something about changing my routine. Stepping outside my comfort zone. Traveling a bit? I don’t know, but it makes me consider the prospects, and that’s a start, right? And did I mention this is the first book in a series? Yep, more Peter and Ernesto coming. Best to get acquainted with them now.
Review copy from the publisher.
Filed under: Reviews
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
SLJ Blog Network