Sloth and Squirrel in a Pickle by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Sloth & Squirrel in a Pickle

Cathy Ballou Mealey, Author

Kelly Collier, Illustrator

Kids Can Press, Fiction, May 4, 2021

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes: Animals, Bicycle, Job, Pickles, Differences, Teamwork, Friendship

Opening: “Sloth. I want a bike,” said Squirrel. “I want a bike just like that. We could go FAST!” Sloth nodded s-l-o-w-l-y. 

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Sloth and Squirrel want to buy a bicycle that goes FAST.

So, they get a job. Squirrel works fast, really fast. And Sloth works…s-l-o-w-l-y. It turns out that getting a bikes is harder than they thought.

Starring two lovable and unlikely friends, this hilarious story is a celebration of teamwork, ingenuity and pickles. 

Why I love this book:

Opposites attract. Squirrel is quick and full of energy and speed. Sloth moves a lot more slowly, but is very deliberate. There are many obstacles along the way as they try to earn money to buy a bike. Eventually they come up with a very clever plan that suits them both.

Cathy Mealey’s message is simple, quirky and hilarious for children. It encourages kids to not to make swift judgements about someone else. Everyone has a different strength, a different pace and an unknown talent that may compliment the teamwork. This certainly is the case for Squirrel and Sloth. 

The narrative is delightful and full of fun words. Kids will gasp, they will commiserate with antics and failed attempts to pack pickles, and they will cheer as the two unlikely friends find their way through this pickle. The ending is endearing and funny as Squirrel and Sloth realize their dream in a very big way. A wonderful story about problem-solving and friendship!

Kelly Collier’s comical and colorful illustrations bring each character to life in a unique way. Be prepared to laugh out loud!

Resources: Do you like pickles? What is your favorite kind of pickle?  Like Sloth and Squirrel, can you think of the other ways that you can use pickles? Draw a picture of your idea. And if you wanted to buy a bike, how would you raise the money? Share your ideas. 

Cathy Ballou Mealey has never picked a peck of pickles, but she has been a crossing guard, pet-sitter and professional gift-wrapper, among many other jobs. Her favorite pickle is a crisp, tangy bread-an-butter chip. She lives with her family north of Boston, where she delights in watching silly squirrel antics and is waiting patiently for a sloth to appear. 

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

A Feel Better Book for Little Sports by Holly Brochmann and Leah Bowen

A Feel Better Book for Little Sports 

Holly Brochmann and Leah Bowen, Authors

Shirley Ng-Benitez, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Aug. 24, 2021

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes: Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Resilience, Fun, Rhyme

Opening: All over the world, / in all different places, / people of all ages, genders, and races… / Share a love for SPORTS — they’re so much fun! / Yippee! Hooray! / Your team has won!

Book Jacket Synopsis:

The acclaimed Feel Better Books for Little Kids series now offers an upbeat rhyming story that tackles the fun and the not-so-fun parts of sports: winning, losing, being a good sport, and even resilience. This is a helpful book for little ones who are just entering the world of competitive play, so that they can get the most out of their activities.

Why I like this book:

Brochmann and Bowen’s picture book  is a perfect read for young children who get involved in sports at an early age. What child doesn’t like to run, swim, dance, skateboard, and play soccer, baseball, football, and tennis?  Sports can be a BIG deal for a little child, especially if they have older siblings who are sport enthusiasts!

What I love about this book is that it focuses more on what sports do for children and not so much on winning — although that’s fun too. It brings kids together. It helps them exercise their body and brain and work on their coordination. It teaches kids respect and consideration for others, especially when they win and an opponent loses. This is a very balanced and important book for at home or school.

The rhyming text is snappy and Shirley Ng-Benitez illustrations are lively and colorful. The children represent a diverse group of sport enthusiasts and those who are differently-abled. 

Resources: The author offers an insightful Note to Parents and Caregivers at the end of the book with more information about ways to help kids get the most out of sports while they have fun learning.

Holly Brochmann  and Leah Bowen are sisters and co-athors. This is the sisters’ fourth book in the Feel Better Books for Little Kids series: For Little Tears, For Little Worriers, Little Poopers, and For Little Tempers. Leah is a licensed professional counselor and registered play therapist. Holly has a degree in journalism and has a career in public relations. Both sisters live in Texas. You can visit them at their website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.”