Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable. First Second, 2018. 9781626725614.
Sloths Peter and Ernesto are snacking on a hibiscus blossom and looking at the sky together, their heads just poking out of the top of a tree, when Ernesto breaks into song. He sings about how wonderful it is to live together in this tree, seeing the same things every day, and that nothing ever changes and probably won’t even if they live to a hundred and three. With each line he sings, Peter’s face falls. He likes their tree and their piece of sky, but he must go. He wants to see all of the sky. Ernesto is horrified — there are BEARS out there! This begins a joyful journey around the world by Peter and eventually to Ernesto, worried about Peter, taking a journey to find him.
This book is delightful. I think it’s a worthy addition to the pantheon of great friend pairs: Bert and Ernie, Frog and Toad, and George and Martha. Peter and Ernesto’s personalities couldn’t be more different, and this leads to them experience the world in very different ways on their journeys, even meeting different friendly (and a couple of scary) animals along the way. There are a lot of themes that will resonate with young readers: feeling adventuresome and curious versus feeling afraid of new things, reassurance that friends who go away will come back again, solving problems with help from others (and helping them in turn), and all the wonderful things you can learn when you travel. It would make a great read aloud or read along, with a chance to make up tunes for Ernesto’s many problem-solving songs. I’m very happy there’s a promise at the end of the book of more adventures to come.