Written and Illustrated by J. Otto Seibold
McSweeney’s & McMullens, 2013
Ring!! Ring!! The phone was ringing!
The plot in a nutshell: A sloth needs to travel across town in a hurry
Sloth is sitting in his armchair, playing his guitar, when the phone rings. He is too slow to answer it, but he hears on the answering machine that he has won a shopping spree (although he doesn’t know what that is). He only has three hours to claim his prize, so he knows he needs to hurry. He goes out the window, down the clothesline and over the backyard fence, but he misses the bus. He tries to take the shortcut through the park, but when he stops to think which way to go, he gets sleepy and falls out of a tree onto an ice cream truck. He wakes up on a cliff overlooking the town, totally lost. He grabs a hang glider and swoops from the cliff to the store, landing on a shopping cart and beginning his shopping spree. He crashes into a display of pillows and falls on top of them, passing out. The store manager pushes the cart, with Sloth and the pillows inside, back to Sloth’s home. When Sloth wakes up, he’s so happy to have all the pillows that he starts a pillow fight with himself.
Author/illustrator J. Otto Siebold has been writing and/or illustrating picture books for twenty years (a fact which is alluded to on the book’s end papers, where an airplane has ’20 years J. Otto’ painted on its tail) and this is his most recent book. The book’s cover is plain grey cardboard, but the illustrations inside are explosive with color and crammed with lots of bits and pieces (such as an Occupy tent) for you to take in. I loved the way that Sloth was drawn and there are some funny ideas in the story, but I can’t say I was a huge fan of this book overall. The plot seemed to jump around a little incoherently and the ending felt like a bit of a letdown. I’d recommend this for sloth fans or those who like their books with a healthy dose of extra eccentricity.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that life is too exciting to sleep through.