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Spark: Kallie George & Genevieve Cote

Book: Spark
Author: Kallie George
Illustrator: Geneviève Côté 
Pages: 44
Age Range: 5-8

Spark is a delightful easy reader by Kallie George and Geneviève Côté, the first of a new series from Simply Read Books. It consists of five short chapters, with extensive color illustrations. Spark is about a young dragon who struggles to control his flames. His parents attempt three lessons (the middle chapters) to teach him flame-breath management, but nothing works. Spark is simply not ready. But sometimes time is all you need. And when Spark's birthday rolls around, he's ready to give it another try. 

What I like about Spark is that although it's meant for new readers, it's plenty interesting enough to hold a child's attention. Spark is a sympathetic character. Five year old readers will probably be savvy enough to understand the parallels with potty training or learning to ride a bike, but the message of waiting until you are ready remains secondary to Spark's personality. There's humor in Spark aimed at parents, too, which is always appreciated in a book that's likely to be read over and over again. For example:

"Spark tried to be careful.
It was hard.

He set his hankie on fire.

He set some leaves on fire.

Mama got a book:
How to Tame Flames

Mama and Papa both read it."

Yes, what parent hasn't turned to a book for help with something?

Spark is relatively advanced in terms of vocabulary for an early reader. There are words like "crackle", "marshmallow", and "phoenix". But many of the more challenging words are repeated multiple times through the book, and are made clear by Côté's illustrations. 

These illustrations are beautiful. The dragons are drawn with a thick pencil outline, and then filled in with watercolor. This gives the pictures the appearance of something a child could have done. Except that your average child won't be able to use facial expressions to convey mood, and add humor. Spark's birthday party is a particularly joyous celebration, populated by whimsical creatures (including a "troll" who looks a lot like a regular boy). I challenge any five year old not to relate to and enjoy Spark. 

Highly recommended for home or library use. I look forward to future books in this planned series. I also look forward to reading Spark with my daughter tonight before bed. Simply lovely. 

Publisher: Simply Read Books (@simplyreadbooks)
Publication Date: November 30, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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