Slowly, slowly, slowly… (but quick if you want to win a signed Eric Carle proof!)

posted in: Eric Carle | 19

How can I have been blogging for over a year about picture books and never once featured an Eric Carle book? Crazy but true… so today I’m rectifying that situation with a review of one of our family’s through-thick-and-thin-favourites: Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth. It’s been on my list of books to review for ages – so much so that back in May when we visited London Zoo I made a special point of taking a photo of the sloth in their rainforest centre in order that I could include it in an eventual blog post!

So what’s this book all about?

Hanging upside down from the branch in a rainforest, a sloth slowly goes about his day. Not much happens; he wakes up, eats a leaf, falls asleep, observed by other jungle animals as they wander past. Eventually they brake their silence and reproach him – why is he so slow, so boring, so lazy? After much thought the sloth finally gives a gentle, clever and truthful answer to his detractors showing that there’s nothing to be ashamed of in being slow.

And why has it proved such a winner in the Playing by the book household?

  • The illustrations – yes, I know it’s Carle, and so the illustrations couldn’t really be anything other than great, but the colours here are particularly wonderful, rich blues and greens. The animals featured are not your usual suspects and this means that parents as well as children in this family have learned new things about life in South American rainforests from this lovely book.

  • The rhythm – revolving around a slow, placid animal this story unfolds at a rather laid back and mellow pace, making it a great story to read at bedtime or any other time when a calming down effect is what’s needed.

  • The bigger picture – for me this tale full of wonderful animals, told in brilliant colours gently explores the idea that animals (and by extension, us people) can have different characteristics and approaches to life, and whilst we may be quick to judge based our own attitudes and dispositions, actually there’s room for us all.

  • And so, over five years since we first read Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth as a family, this weekend we decided to make our own sloth-inhabited rainforest. First we painted a box green, inside and out.

    Then we made some trees and vines to go in our rainforest. We used toilet rolls, and cardboard rolls from inside kitchen paper and wrapping paper as tree trunks, to which we stuck leaves we’d cut out in various shapes, included “streamers” ie thin strips of paper we’d wrapped around a pencil to create vines.

    Whilst the leaves on our trees dried we used plasticine (not sure if it’s called this elsewhere in the world – basically it’s a soft modelling clay which unlike playdoh doesn’t dry on exposure to air nor hardens by baking it (as fimo/sculpey would)) to create a selection of animals from Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth.

    And finally the rainforest was assembled and various new stories created with the different animals as the girls played and recreated to their hearts’ content.

    Amongst the creatures the girls made were the sloth, caiman, leaf cutter ants, python, jaguar, poison dart frog, porcupine, river turtle, macaw and toucan, although often using colours not actually found in the rainforest! Can you spot them all?

    Music we’ve enjoyed alongside Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth :

  • I’m a Three-Toed Tree Sloth by Penelope Torribio
  • The Slothful Sloth by Rosie Emery
  • Slow, Silly Sloth by Mother Goose Time

  • and for something a little livelier you could try

  • The Carle Boogie, unfortunately not about Eric Carle, but by Frankie Carle… still, it’s fun to dance to!

  • For more art / craft / play inspiration to go with this book you could try these:

  • Make paper bag vines to transform your kid’s room into their own rainforest. Click here for instructions from Family Fun
  • Build your own rainforest with real plants and learn about the water cycle – click here for instructions from
  • A selection of Eric Carle crafts and activities gathered together by Cassi, The Crafty Crow

  • And if you’ve never visited the online shop of The Eric Carle Museum of the Picture Book you’re in for a treat, but*be warned* you may end up spending too much on your card! Here’s their special selection dedicated to Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth.

    Now to some very exciting news! This autumn, 680,000 copies of Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth will be given for free to all children starting reception class in England. To celebrate, Booktime are offering primary schools and libraries in England the chance to enter a prize draw to receive an exclusive, signed artist’s proof from the book. Anyone can nominate a primary school and a public library in England, and the nominations open today (6th September) and close on the 31st October.

    Why don’t you go and nominate your kid’s school or library right now? You just need to visit the nomination page at Booktime’s website (where there are full terms and conditions), and fill in your school or library’s details.

    19 Responses

    1. Lynn

      Wow, your kids have some real talent with that plasticine. It looks like you all had a lot of fun with it – very impressive! 🙂

    2. Zoe

      Hi Lynn,
      I have to thank my mum when it comes to my kids and plasticine – Mum is always playing with it when they meet up. The girls love it as it is so malleable and yet also quite tough – once they’ve made their little characters they last quite a time (better than playdoh ones for example). It’s also good for them to practise cutting using scissors or knives – it provides a good amount of resistance but also gives a very satisfying cut!

    3. Tasha

      Wow – this is such a fantastic post (huge thanks from the Booktime team for mentioning our Prize Draw). What a creative family you are! Loving the plasticine models – they are very impressive! Milo is only playing with play doh at the moment and I have to agree about how long they last, plasticine is definitely better and was always my preference as a child. We do have a few issues with Milo wanting to eat the play doh too which is maybe why his figures don’t last as long.

    4. Zoe

      Hi Maggy, Can’t wait to see your post on Wednesday and am so glad everything is sorted out after Friday!

      Hi Tasha,
      We thank _you_ – it’s a great competition and I was so glad to finally have the perfect excuse to review an old favourite of ours. Before M could speak she used to mimic the sloth chewing when we would read her this story – making a smacking noise with her lips. Good memories!

    5. Bumbles

      Oh I love the activities you create around reading for your girls. Making the books come alive is so key to becoming a lifelong reader!

      Eric Carle has a museum in the western part of MA within a few hours from our house. I have been meaning to get there to see his drawings up close and personal on a large scale.

      • Zoe

        Thanks Bumbles! Yes, we love continuing the book in our play – it gives us a lot of fun shared times. The Carle museum looks utterly wonderful – lots of illustrations from all sorts of illustrators, not just Carle. Certainly if I were to visit the US I’d want to wangle a trip to the museum somehow!

    6. sandhya

      What a wonderful review, Zoe! Eric Carle has been a favourite with us too. The rainforest looks great and very do-able. Squirrelled the idea away for a rainy day!

    7. Kristine

      Hi Zoe,

      I haven’t read this book. Carle is certaily a prolific author. The diorama looks great particularly as the girls used it as a playscape not just a static display. I was thinking the other day as I read “Imagine” to my little one for the first time that we play zoos and farms but not animals in their natural habitat so I think we’ll be doing something like this soon.

    8. Zoe

      Hi Kristine – yes we play farms all the time but it has been nice to play rainforests for a change. We sometimes play deserts too – but with plastic animals as the sand doesn’t mix with playdoh/plasticine. We have lots of snakes and a meerkat and some birds of prey.

    9. Eliza

      How wonderful! I love seeing all the colorful creatures your kids made out of clay – what an amazing mini rainforest. I’m sure Eric Carle would be very happy to see this! And thanks for linking to our Shop!

    10. Slummy Single Mummy

      This is the first time I have visited your blog and can I just say… WOW! That is some seriously impressive crafting you have going on there!!

      Book looks great too obviously 🙂

    11. clemencia

      How beautiful! this is my first time here, and I absolutly love your site, I am trying to subscribe by e-mail but I am not understanding where to put my e-mail address, thanks so much for sharing your awesome ideas 🙂

    12. Zoe @ Playing by the book

      Hi Clemencia,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’ve sent you an email about subscribing – if it doesn’t get through leave another comment and I’ll happily subscribe you myself if that’s what you’d like.

    13. Jen

      What a great post! That project looks like a lot of fun! I have a project idea for a book I reviewed that I’m going to have to post! Love it!

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