Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths
Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths
Readers last encountered Peter and Ernesto, a pair of sloths, in the graphic novel, Peter and Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths, (http://www.umanitoba.ca/cm/vol24/no34/peterandernesto.html) in which Ernesto, the more adventuresome of the pair, decided that he needed to see more of the sky than was visible from their treetop. When Ernesto does not return, Peter decides that friendship trumps fear, and he goes in search of his friend.
Travel is also at the core of Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths as necessity demands that not just the pair but all of the sloths resident in their tree engage in a journey. Peter’s day starts badly as he is harassed by a bee while sleeping hanging upside down from a branch, but his day becomes much worse when a hurricane devastates their portion of the jungle, including felling the tree that was home to Peter and Ernesto and four of their fellow sloths. Again, it is the adventurous Ernesto who takes the lead in finding a new tree “Out there! In the jungle!”. Given Peter’s more timid nature, he understandably responds, “That’s too dangerous, Ernesto!”
However, given that there are no trees still standing in their immediate area, the sloth sextet has no choice but to go on a quest to find a “great tree”. The rest of the graphic novel details the adventures they have, including their choosing a vine-covered tree as a home only to discover that the vines are really snakes, sleeping on a biting ants’ nest, and taking refuge from the rain in a cave full of bats. Help arrives in the form of a parrot who informs the group that there’s a great tree “south of the river”, a river they find by falling into it. Their journey down the river on a log offers its own adventures, but finally the group does locate the great tree only to be confronted by the jungle’s apex predator, a jaguar. Several times in the story, the sloths have encountered a herd of peccaries running frantically and shouting, “Jaguar! Jaguar! Jaguar!” Up to this climactic point in the story, the sloths have concluded that the peccaries are fleeing from a jaguar, but now they realize that the peccaries, as a herd, are actually chasing the jaguar. And so the sloths have found a new home and a new roommate, the lonely parrot.
Annable’s cartoon illustrations are delightful, and, while Ernesto and Peter are simply rendered, their facial expressions and postures, as well as those of the numerous supporting characters, capture the mood and emotions of what is occurring at any point in their adventures. Though Annable principally employs two, three or four panels per page, his comic book-like cartoons with their speech bubbles are presented in various groupings which not only offer visual variety but also contribute to appropriate plot emphasis and pacing. Upon occasion, Annable employs full-page illustrations, with one example occurring when the hurricane strikes the jungle. At that point, four full-pages reinforce the storm’s enormous destructive strength. The only double-page spread that Annable employs highlights the great tree the sloths have been seeking.
The book’s closing five pages consist of illustrated “Fun Facts About Sloths!” with some of them being a “Real Fact” and others, a “Peter & Ernesto Fact!” An example of the former would be that “Sloths generally have poor eyesight and hearing! They depend mostly on touch and smell to find their food!” That “Peter first met Ernesto when they were both just three months old” is illustrative of the latter.
Those who have read Peter and Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths will recognize Ernesto’s continuing interest in constellations and Peter’s love of song. Peter and Ernesto: The Lost Sloths, like the earlier book, is a wonderful story of friendship to which has been added the idea that there is strength in numbers.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he ponders whether or not you can be lost (as in the book’s title) when you don’t know where your final destination actually is.