Quill and Quire

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Spark

by Kallie George; Geneviève Côté, illus.

Spark is a lovable little dragon with a big problem: he can’t control his fire. His parents try everything they can think of to help: they teach him lessons from a book, they give him marshmallows to roast (he fries them), they even try getting him to dry the dishes with his flames (that ends badly). None of these ploys work, of course; it’s up to Spark to figure out for himself how to use his ability in a safe, productive way.

The story’s construction lends it unique appeal. It is broken up into five chapters that are short enough to suit storytime with toddlers, yet long enough for early readers to feel a sense of accomplishment in working through them. The harmony between author Kallie George’s beautifully paced, sweetly humorous text and Geneviève Côté’s whimsical illustrations also elevate the simple tale.

The handmade quality of Côté’s artwork is particularly appealing. Colours bleed ever so slightly outside the pencil-drawn outlines of Spark, his parents, and his friends (a griffin, a phoenix, a unicorn, and a troll). As it relates a story about overcoming challenges, the book exerts a reassuring, calming effect on readers. Any parent weary of potty-­training a toddler will recognize the parable here, as well as the fact that time and patience are often the only solutions.

Spark is a lovely story to share with any child who is eager to learn how to use his or her own “flame.”