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Monday, November 30, 2015

Kyle Goes Alone, written by Jan Thornhill and illustrated by Ashley Barron. Owlkids, 2015. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"After what seemed like a very
long time, Kyle looked up. He
couldn't see the tiger-legged
monkey tree frog. He couldn't
see the green and yellow whip-
snake. He couldn't see the red-
spectacled parrot. And he
couldn't see his mom.
Maybe he should turn back
... except now he really,
REALLY had to go. "

Here's a 'potty' book you haven't likely heard! Jan Thornhill, whose informative books are very popular, writes a  new picture for children that focuses on one event in a young sloth's life. It is Kyle's first time to 'go' on his own.

We set eyes on Kyle in the first spread, clinging to his mother while requesting help for his plight. We are told that he is a three-toed sloth and learn a little about him: where he lives, how he moves, chews, and scratches. And, we learn that he does all these things ... slowly.

In fact, he only has to go to the bathroom once a week. You know how he does that, I imagine. His mother assures him that it is one more of those things he can do by himself. Kyle checks. It is a long way to the bottom of their tree:

"Kyle felt dizzy. The forest floor
was a long, LONG L O N G way away.
He wasn't sure he was ready to go alone."

His mother continues to encourage him. Off he goes. Still fretting, but with nature calling, he slowly makes his way. As he goes, he meets other creatures who live in his tree and realizes that he has company along the way. It is all the impetus he needs. Soon, well not too soon, he finds that he has made it to the forest floor ... JUST IN TIME. 

The return trip goes much more smoothly, although he now has the confidence to know he can do it all by himself.

Ashley Barron's cut paper collages are textured and crisply edged. Variety in perspective allow young readers a taste for the height of Kyle's home, and show his ultimate success as a young and inexperienced sloth. Readers will be keen to see the other animals who share his leafy abode and watch as he makes his way from top to bottom with great anticipation.

Two additional endnotes provide welcome information, and are followed by a list of sources for those readers who want to know about this peculiar animal of the rainforest.

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