About the Holiday
The AIUNAU, a non-profit dedicated to protecting all wildlife, established International Sloth Day in 2010 to raise awareness of the dangers facing these gentle animals who always seem to have a smile on their face. There are six species of sloth and two types—two-toed and three-toed. Each of the six species lives in its own unique habitat and has its own characteristics. While all species are seeing a population decline, the pygmy sloth is rated as “critically endangered” as there are fewer than 100 animals in existence. Sloths need protection from power lines, cars, and poachers who capture them to sell as pets as well as from other environmental issues that destroy their habitats. To learn more about the various species of sloths, visit AZ Animals.
Sloth’s Treehouse Inn
Written by Carrie Hasler | Illustrated by Christina Wald
Deep in the rainforest, a sloth named Santiago provided rest and comfort to animals from all over within the “gnarled branches that stretched to the sky” and “twisted roots that spread across the forest floor” of his Treehouse Inn. He was a caring innkeeper, always finding the perfect spot for each guest and their needs. One of his favorites was a blue morpho butterfly chrysalis that he gently checked on every day.
While there was usually plenty of room for everyone who visited, Santiago had noticed that his inn was getting crowded. When two toucans came looking for a place to spend the night, Santiago discovered why. The toucans told him that trees in large areas of the rainforest were being cut down, leaving the animals and birds nowhere to live. “The lush forest brimming with life was becoming nothing more than a swath of dirt and mud.” Hearing this made Santiago sad, and he found “he didn’t have the heart to turn anyone away,” so his Treehouse Inn was soon full.
But Santiago continued watching out for each one of his guests. He served tea every afternoon, provided games, and was happy to play slooow games of checkers with anyone who was willing. Before bedtime, Santiago told stories to young guests, who “didn’t seem to mind that the sloth was always the first to fall asleep, long before the story was over.”
The crowded conditions soon led to some squabbling among the guests. The howler monkeys complained loudly, and the tamarins hogged all the fruit. Santiago knew the animals needed more room; they needed homes. Most of all, he worried about where the butterfly would go when it finally emerged from its chrysalis.
One morning, Santiago awoke to see the beautiful butterfly looking back at him. “They both stayed still for a very long time, something the sloth happened to be very good at.” Then, in a flash, the butterfly took off and soared away. Wanting to see his friend one more time to say good-bye, Santiago climbed to the top of the tree. From there he saw how many trees had been cut down. But he also saw something else.
In the distance, he saw people planting new trees—saplings and seeds. Young trees were already growing, and other plants that made up the forest floor were also sprouting. “Filled with hope, Santiago couldn’t wait to tell the others.” As the trees and plants reclaimed their place in the rainforest, the animals found new homes, leaving the Treehouse Inn quiet once again. and “even though business was slow, its very fine innkeeper was happy just the way it was.”
The front endpapers offer fun facts about animals of the rainforest and the back endpapers offer a key to the types of animals found in a vertical, double-page spread midway through Sloth’s Treehouse Inn. Frontmatter provides a map of South America that highlights the location of the Amazon Rainforest while backmatter includes photographs, information about the rainforest, the causes of deforestation, and what individuals, environmentalists, and governments are doing to save the Amazon. There’s also a guide to how kids can help protect animals and plants in their own community.
In her well-crafted story, Carrie Hasler takes readers into the Amazon Rainforest—and to one tree in particular—to show them the vast array of wildlife and plants that call this unique region home as well as a major cause of habitat destruction. Through Hasler’s engaging storytelling, full of lyrical descriptions of the Treehouse Inn and its surroundings, kids meet Santiago, the innkeeper, who embodies the actual attributes of sloths in the wild—gentleness, caring, respectfulness to other creatures, and, of course, a slow, sleepy manner. Whimsical elements, such as the afternoon tea and games Santiago provides, will delight kids while inviting them to empathize with the growing number of guest who have lost their homes. Readers will also like following the progress of the blue morpho butterfly, whose departure leads to Santiago’s discovery of people’s work to replant the rainforest.
Christina Wald realistic illustrations burst with the color, light, and lush vegetation of the Amazon Rainforest. Each page will have readers lingering to view and appreciate the beauty of the rainforest and its denizens. As Santiago settles a group of poison dart frogs in just the right place to give them (and a tadpole) a pool and leaves to climb, the frogs appear as if they could simply hop out of the book. Turning from these types of gorgeous images, the two-page spread of trucks, machinery, and people with large saws cutting through the forest comes as a heartbreaking shock.
Wald’s show-stopping vertical illustration of the Treehouse Inn full of guests—from anteaters and tapirs below to a kinkajou, emerald tree boa, and hoatzin in the middle to a howler monkey and harpy eagle at the top—will have kids trying to spot all the creatures here and later in the book, while her clever checkerboard woven from leaves may inspire creative kids to make their own. The image of people replanting the clearcut forest area is inspiring and will prompt readers to learn more about how they can help.
An inspiring mix of fiction and nonfiction that will engage kids, Sloth’s Treehouse Inn would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves and is highly recommended for school and public libraries.
Ages 4 – 8
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press, 2022 | ISBN 978-1943198139
Discover more about Carrie Hasler and her books on her website.
To learn more about Christina Wald, her books, and her art, visit her website.
International Sloth Day Activity
Wildlife of the Amazon Rainforest Word Search Puzzle
You’ll find eighteen names of creatures who call the Amazon Rainforest home in his printable puzzle
You can find Sloth’s Treehouse Inn at these booksellers
To support your local independent bookstore, order from
Picture Book Review