Jenny Offil’s Sparky! is the adorable story of a girl who choses a sloth for her pet. She chooses him to meet her mother’s requirement for a pet that doesn’t need much care, but then learns that Sparky does essentially nothing but sleep. He can’t do tricks or play games like her friend’s pet and after some disappointment, the girl (we don’t learn her name in the story) comes to accept Sparky just the way he is. There are opportunities through Sparky! to chat about accepting our friends even when they cannot do the things that we wish they could. There is also space to discuss how we treat friends and how we would like them to treat us. The girl has a neighbor named Mary Potts who is quite competitive and has a rather unkind attitude. The conflict is light enough that it would not upset little listeners, but it may be interesting to hear your little one’s thoughts about the girls’ friendship. Chris Appelhans’ illustrations are lovely and subdued, perfect for bedtime reading. Sparky! is one of our favorites.