Sloth the Lazy Dragon
Sloth the Lazy Dragon
“Sir,” the dwarf began with a shaking voice, “you have lived in the bowels of our mountain for decades. No one ever sees you leave. You slumber on this mound of gold and eat the mountain goats that wander in. How long will you stay?”
“Hm?” the dragon croaked, roused again from his nap. He opened one yellow eye and yawned to show the dwarf his chasm of sharp, ivory teeth. “Why would I leave? I have everything I want right here”
The dwarf coughed nervously before speaking again. “I wonder if you can leave under your own power?”
When Radish, a dwarf, causes Sloth, a dragon, to admit that he never leaves his cave because he has gained so much weight that his wings can no longer provide the lift necessary for him to be able to fly, Radish offers to help Sloth lose weight via a regimen of diet and exercise. Sloth, who sits atop a “hoard of gold coins and goblets, loose rubies and emeralds, tiaras covered in diamonds, polished shields, and shining weapons”, is suspicious of Radish’s motivations, but Radish, “sound[ing] sincere”, responds that all the local dwarfs “fear you” and “[p]erhaps they would not have reason to be afraid if we helped each other out.”
Sloth accepts Radish’s offer, and, for more than a year, Radish brings Sloth horse-drawn wagonloads of healthy foods, such as cucumber and pumpkin vines, apple and pear trees, nuts, fish and lean meats, plus barrels of yogurt. Six days a week, Radish also leads Sloth through exercise routines, including push-ups, jogging and weightlifting (using mounds of gold as weights). Finally, “Sloth was lean again and looked more like a dragon than a dirigible.” No longer cave-bound, Sloth decides to use his regained freedom to fly off and see the world, leaving his gold to Radish. “... though Sloth knew the dwarf had hoped in the end to regain the gold in exchange for helping him, the dragon did not begrudge him this.”
The thin storyline is somewhat built upon a foundation of sand. Given that [see Excerpt] Sloth has lived in the mountain for decades, there is no indication that Sloth has ever harmed any of the locals. And how has Sloth managed to maintain his excess weight when all he’s had to eat is the occasional mountain goat that wanders into his cave?
In her watercolour (?) illustrations, Zgud needed to pay more attention to the details provided in Macaulay’s text. For instance, Macaulay was quite explicit about what made up Sloth’s “hoard” but those details are not represented on the opening page. Particularly lacking are the gold coins, and, consequently, what is supposed to be a coinage pile looks more like a mound of sand. On the third text page, Macaulay writes, “He [Sloth]...yawned to show the dwarf his chasm of sharp, ivory teeth.” However, that page’s image of Sloth has him belching a flame, an action described on the previous page. It’s only nine pages later that readers actually encounter the teeth. Readers also never really get an idea of how large Sloth is as he’s inconsistently portrayed sizewise in relationship to Radish.
Following the closing page of text, a page containing photos of almost three dozen different foods asks readers to “Pick Out Healthy Food Choices for Sloth” while the facing page reproduces the closing illustration in a colouring book style and extends an invitation to “Colour in Sloth”.
Sloth the Lazy Dragon could be considered as an additional purchase in libraries with large budgets.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.