cover image Spark


Kallie George, illus. by Genevieve Cote. Simply Read (Ingram, dist.), $12.95 (44p) ISBN 978-1-927018-24-8

Children who are forever being cautioned to "Be careful" will instantly empathize with Spark, the young dragon who stars in this early reader from George (The Melancholic Mermaid), first in the Tiny Tails series. Like all dragons, Spark quickly learns how to breathe fire; keeping that gift under control is more difficult. "Be careful," his father tells him. "Fire burns." And so it does in the three lessons that follow: under parental supervision, Spark tries to use his fire to toast marshmallows and dry dishes, with undesirable results ("The dishes heated up. They glowed and then... crack! crack! Two dishes broke"). Spark's third trial ends just as badly as a "cloud of smoke" fills his bedroom. "Don't worry," says his well-prepared mother. "Your bed is fireproof." George's simple sentences project Spark's determination and his parents' pragmatic brand of support, while Cote offers playfully childlike scenes outlined in loose, crayony strokes. What's the solution for Spark? It's one that's both true to life and the last thing some kids will want to hear: sometimes these things just take time. Ages 5%E2%80%938. (Oct.)