The Peter & Ernesto Series
The Peter & Ernesto series by Graham Annable features two sloths who are the best of friends although they’re very different in personality. Ernesto is adventurous, wanting to explore and see new things, while Peter appreciates their home and enjoys the familiar.
The sloths have perhaps the most minimal character design ever, being basically tubes with faces and sticks for arms and legs, but Annable’s animation experience gives them a wonderful physicality and sense of motion. The result is a series of smooth, affecting reads with a simple, repetitive layout but reassuring emotional depth.
We meet Peter and Ernesto in A Tale of Two Sloths, as Ernesto sets out to see the sky from as many places as he can, while Peter waits behind in their home tree. In spite of his nervousness, Peter eventually becomes determined to find his friend, while Ernesto is helped by a variety of other creatures.
In lesser hands, Peter’s contentment would be portrayed as a character flaw, but Annable does an impressive job of showing the two as merely different, not better or worse. Their friendship is loyal and unchanging, as each grows to appreciate the other’s strengths. And there’s plenty of humor!
In The Lost Sloths, a hurricane destroys the tree! Peter’s caution and Ernesto’s curiosity balance each other well as they and the other sloths set out to find a new home. Their journey through the jungle puts them in contact with several other species, including anteaters, jaguars, and peccaries. There are fun and scary and itchy adventures, as well as some new friends met and made.
The river trip, where the sloths are floating on a log and fighting off alligators, apologizing to them all the way for smacking them with sticks, is hilarious, particularly when the alligators all get little stars over their heads in the classic cartoon vocabulary for hurting.
The most recent book is Peter & Ernesto: Sloths in the Night. One of their friends, Bernard, is missing, and night is falling, so the other sloths set out to find him. They’re concerned because there are rumors of a dragon at the old temple. While on their journey, they encounter various night creatures, including bats, owls, and frogs.
It’s reassuring to see the sloth friends banding together to look out for each other, particularly when they value each other’s individual strengths. This storyline brings up another contrast between Peter and Ernesto: Peter is practical, creating technological items, while Ernesto loves fantasy and creative imagination. Peter keeps an eye on the schedule, and sings reassuring songs, while Ernesto leaps into activities without worrying about how they’ll land.
No worries, though, it’s all a happy ending, with some new friends met along the way. That’s comforting, as well as entertaining, which pretty much sums up the series.
(The publisher provided digital advance review copies. Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)