A fruit bat and a two-toed sloth slowly make friends in this opening volume in an early reader series.
As the sun sets, readers meet Bat, who is sleeping upside down in a rainforest. When he awakens, he’s unpleasantly surprised to find another animal in his tree: “This is my branch!” The newcomer is in favor of sharing, though, and Sloth introduces himself—slowly, of course. Sloth sees the two as similar, but Bat points out all their differences. In the next chapter, the two enjoy fruit together before unsuccessfully playing some games. Tag clearly is not a game in Sloth’s wheelhouse, and when Bat hides, Sloth falls asleep before he can count to 10 and begin seeking. In Chapter 3, each of the new friends saves the other from calamity and is a hero. The final chapter features an accident, some reluctant apologizing, and forgiveness. The Level 2 reader uses brief chapters, short sentences, easy words, and a bit of repetition to strengthen beginning readers’ skills. Braun’s illustrations focus on the branch the new friends share, a soft blue sky and deep green in the trees highlighting the fact that the animals are nocturnal. The book’s weak spot is character development. In both the pictures and the text Sloth seems adorable and sweet while Bat comes off as a rather brash friend. Readers may not want to spend more time with him.
A rough start to both a friendship and a series. (Early reader. 4-7)