Written by Jenny Offill
Illustrated by Chris Appelhans
Schwartz and Wade Books, 2014. Unpaged picture book.
A little girl wants a pet, but Mom nixes the idea of a adopting a bird, bunny, or a trained seal. After a lot of persistence, Mom gives in with some conditions: a pet is welcome, as long as it doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed. What does that leave? The school librarian helps the little girl find an animal encyclopedia, and she discovers that sloths are low-maintenance. Bingo! When her new sloth Sparky arrives by Express Mail, their mellow adventure begins. Sparky! is a charming story with illustrations to match. Appelhans' watercolor and pencil illustrations are subdued but expressive at the same time, while Offill's story is endearing and funny. Could be an early Caldecott contender!