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Jeffrey and Sloth

Jeffrey and Sloth

by Kari-Lynn Winters, Ben Hodson (Illustrator)

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Jeffrey can't think of a thing to write, so he doodles instead, only to have his doodle begin to order him about. Jeffrey struggles with the situation until he discovers that the most strong-willed doodle is powerless against a well-told tale. Jeffrey and Sloth is bound to have children rushing for their colored pencils and their pens to see who and what they


Jeffrey can't think of a thing to write, so he doodles instead, only to have his doodle begin to order him about. Jeffrey struggles with the situation until he discovers that the most strong-willed doodle is powerless against a well-told tale. Jeffrey and Sloth is bound to have children rushing for their colored pencils and their pens to see who and what they can create.

As a teacher, parent, and writer, I'm always on the hunt for an indispensable resource. It's what I pack if my day is going to contain anything unpredictable: a new teaching situation, the hook to launching a unit, an unexpected wait in the doctor's office. Jeffrey and Sloth is that rare kind of book that works for kids of all ages.

Jeffrey and Sloth is a literacy teacher's tool for inspiring children with a month's worth of ideas for their creative writing. Primary teachers will want this book as a fun hook for studying Canada. It's a substitute teacher's solution to a blank or boring dayplan: scrap the busy work and create a Social Responsibility mini-unit around themes of power and powerlessness. An art teacher could create weeks of exciting lessons exploring the book's illustrations: patterns, colors, cartoon animation, and teaching students to illustrate their own stories. And I'm just getting started. Imagine what an educator could come up with if she, like Jeffrey, started brainstorming or doodling on a scrap piece of paper.

Jeffrey and Sloth is a multi-age enjoyable read. My preschooler loves the situational comedy. My grade sevens enjoy Winters' fresh approach to writer's block. This is a book children and adults - formally or informally - will enjoy for years.

PJ Sarah Collins

"I think kids will enjoy this book because it's funny and it teaches them about sloths, Canada, geography." (Amit, grade 3)

"I think the book would appeal to all age groups because it is so funny and full of imagination. It really inspires people to write more. It should be for kids aged 5 - 11 because there are some powerful words that older kids might find useful for writing projects." (George, grade 5)

"This was a good book about thinking outside the box. The book teaches not to take people for granted." (Gail, grade 5)

"I am 10 and I thought it was the best picture book I have read so far. I really liked how the sloth was so mean and bossy until Jeffrey found his weakness and used it against him. I think that kids from preschool to grade 7 or 8 will absolutely love this book!" (Daya, grade 5)

Other comments:

What my primary students think about Jeffrey and Sloth:

"I think it's a good book for kids to learn stuff like writing stories and encouraging kids to use their imagination." (Stella, grade 3)

"I like it when the sloth dug to India." (Paulo, grade 2)

"It was funny. My favorite part was when the sloth went across Canada." (Stu, grade 3)

"I think it's great for kids over five." (Helen, grade 3)

"It was funny when the sloth was trying to find the blanket." (Emma, grade 2)

"I like it when the sloth came alive." (Braeden, grade 2)

"I think it was an interesting and wonderful story." (Ally, grade 3)

"I like the pictures. They explain what happened to the sloth." (Amy, grade 2)

What my intermediate students think about Jeffrey and Sloth:

"I would rate this 5/5 for kids ages 4 - 10. I loved the moral to the story. Do not be a sloth. Being lazy will not help anyone or help yourself." (Gary, grade 5)

"This is a creative story about doing your homework and being imaginative. The way Kari-Lynn writes the story is very fun for children about 6 or 7 years old." (Diana, gr.5)

"This book was so hilarious! It shows kids that even though you think you are not good at something, you are actually great if you really try." (Kyleah, grade 5)

"I think the book teaches us not to be lazy when it comes to homework." (Elaine, gr. 5)

"It gives people ideas if they don't know what to write about." (Jacky, grade 5)

"A wonderful book about a boy and a sloth." (Anthony, grade 5)

"It's a very well written book about a lazy sloth who traveled many countries to find his cozy blanket." (Amanda, grade 5)

"I think this book would be great for grades 1 and 2. They might learn about making fabulous stories while creating pictures in their minds." (Alex, grade 7)

"This book is for grade 2's. It would tell them that drawing can give you writing ideas." (Kevin, grade 7).

"There's a lesson to learn and an idea you can do when you're stuck in writing. Awesome pictures. (Melissa, grade 7)

"I really liked the book. The pictures had so much detail; it was fun to look at. I think this book could be for grades 4 - 6." (Linda, grade 6)

"This book teaches little kids to be creative and not lazy. It teaches kids to have power over things that are bothering them." (Kate, grade 7)

What my intermediate students thought about power and powerlessness in Jeffrey and Sloth:

"Too much power is slavery." (Jan, grade 7)

"This book should be recommended for grade 2's. It would teach them how to respond back when someone tries to control them." (Wilson, grade 7)

"If I had no power, I'll feel awful because I have no choices. My decisions are controlled and I'll have no choice but to do as I was told. I'll feel like I'm just a doll and nothing more. If I had all the power, I'll feel great and maybe become mean. I'll have all my choices back and I can do whatever I want. I could command things / people to do my homework." (Vivian, grade 7)

"I think to have power is to be fully confident. It feels good to have power. But you have to use the power responsibly. You use it to help people, not order them around. If you had no power you'd feel miserable. People ordering you to do stuff. I have power over my little brother. He does everything I tell him to do. I have no power when my parents are talking to me." (Angela, grade 7)

Editorial Reviews

Resource Links
"A unique Canadian picturebook...Would make a good addition to primary school collections."
CM Magazine
"Will make readers laugh out loud...Bravo to both of its creators. Recommended."
Cheryl Rainfield's Children's Book Reviews
"Creative and fun."
Library Media Connection
"A good choice to include in a school library collection."
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
A young boy just cannot get a good idea for writing assignment so he starts to doodle. As he is doodling, he begins talking to himself. He keeps saying he should focus on words and not the picture. He hears a voice telling him to forget about the words and realizes that the sloth in one of his pictures has come alive. By the end of the story, this child realizes that he has actually completed his homework assignment, and he is very happy with the end result. What a wonderful story! So many children (and adults for that matter) don't quite know how to get started on a writing project. This book provides a unique way of looking at the whole picture. The illustrations are just great and helped me feel exactly what the boy was feeling. Then ending says it all: "Yes!" he cheered. "Thanks to Sloth, his homework was done!" Jeffery beamed as he sketched a blanket and wrote: ……." In good conscience, I just cannot give you the whole ending. I know this picture book is meant for younger children, but the message is meant for all children. This book would make a great gift for a child—or for a teacher—who helps children to read and write. I loved it! Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
When young Jeffrey is suffering from writer's block, he doodles a "round-bellied, long-armed sloth." As he tries to focus on the writing, the sloth seems to come alive and tell him to forget the words. "You're a lousy writer," the sloth taunts. He persuades Jeffrey to draw for him instead, first a chair and pillow; then, a blanket. Finally, Jeffrey begins to write about the sloth. He quickly discovers that the sloth has to do whatever he writes. So challenged, Jeffrey writes about the sloth digging, swimming, and searching through Canada, all for that elusive blanket. Exhausted, the sloth takes back all he said about Jeffrey's writing ability. Smiling and satisfied at last, Jeffrey draws him his blanket and finishes his story. Double-page scenes depict both Jeffrey's many doodles and the sloth's activities. Acrylic paints and colored pencils create light-hearted images of a cartoon-y boy and an athletic, hairy sloth, an unusual choice for a story. It's interesting both to compare the sketches with Hodson's more mature renderings and to reflect on the relationship between words and images. Perhaps this may encourage those stuck on a writing assignment when confronted with that blank sheet of paper as Jeffrey is.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 2- When Jeffrey sits down to write a story for his homework assignment, he is faced with a blank sheet of paper and a raging case of writer's block. He starts to doodle instead, eventually drawing a pudgy sloth. The animal comes to life and begins to taunt him about his writing skills. It doesn't take Jeffrey long to realize that the lazy animal just doesn't want him to write about anything strenuous for the sloth to do. He beats the creature (and his own inner critic) at its own game by sending it on an arduous fictional journey in search of the world's coziest blanket. By the time he finds it, Jeffrey's homework, and the story, is finished. The theme of the book, that one's imagination can lead to unexpected places, is not new; nor is the notion of drawings taking on a life of their own. Jeffrey and Sloth is a good read-aloud to introduce units on creative writing to children. The acrylic and colored-pencil cartoon illustrations of the sloth's imperative journey add an element of silly fun, though the text crowds them on some pages.-Rachael Vilmar, Eastern Shore Regional Library, MD

Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Orca Book Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt

Jeffrey looked at the blank page. It glared back.

His ideas came slowly, and he found himself sketching a round-bellied, long-armed sloth.

"Focus on the words," Jeffrey muttered to himself.

"Just forget about the words," whispered a voice.

Jeffrey looked around, his eyes wide. "Who said that?"

What People are Saying About This

Cheryl Rainfield's Children's Book Reviews
Creative and fun.

Meet the Author

Kari-Lynn Winters teaches education at Brock University in Ontario. She has written many books for young children. For more information, visit www.kariwinters.com.

Ben Hodson illustrates mostly for children in books, magazines and textbooks. He is the 2004 recipient of the Glass Slipper Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Canadian Conference. He does presentations and workshops at local schools and libraries. Ben lives in Ottawa, Ontario, with his wife May and his daughter Zoe. For more information, visit www.benhodson.ca.

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