Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Lazy Friend: book review

The Lazy Friend

Book review by Trevor Agnew


The Lazy Friend (2014)  Ronan Badel (text & ill), Gecko Press, Wellington NZ,  32 pages, hardback   ISBN 978 1 927271 41 4

This wordless picture book provides a wonderful opportunity for young readers to tell their own version of this heart-warming account of true friendship.

The first picture in The Lazy Friend shows a three-toed sloth dozing quietly, while hanging upside down from a tree branch in a tropical jungle. Around him in the tree his friends – a snake, a toucan and a frog – are playing cards. (Ronan Badel is the kind of visual genius who can show a snake playing cards.)  Suddenly the tree is cut down and the animals have to escape. The sloth, however, remains sound asleep (and doesn’t wake up for the rest of the story). 
Still clinging to the branch, the sloth is loaded onto a logging truck and driven away.  Fortunately his friends spot his fate and the snake is clever enough to disguise himself as part of the truck. (Young readers will enjoy finding the snake.)  Before long the snake has control of the log and he battles to return it (and the sleeping sloth) to safety.  Rivers are navigated, a waterfall is surmounted, and other perils averted before the snake gets the sloth back to its friends.

Badel’s water colour pictures are charming and expressive, especially the ultimate scene where the sloth finally opens one eye.  Young readers who scrutinise the pictures will enjoy the snake’s cleverness and his heroic efforts to save the sloth.  The Lazy Friend is a witty, wordless and charming introduction to environmental issues.

Note: This book was first published in France as L’ami paresseux (2014).

Trevor Agnew 

1 June 2014 

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