“Little Croc’s Purse,” written and illustrated by Lizzie Finlay. Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers (Grand Rapids, Mich., 2011). 32 pp., $14.99.
Finlay’s humorous, colorful illustrations will draw in the listener, but her text sends a subtle, nonpreachy message about values: honesty and resisting peer pressure. Little Croc finds a purse with money and turns it in to police, but not before being tempted by other options. Ages 4-7.
“Dragon Slayers: The Essential Training Guide for Young Dragon Fighters,” by Sir Wyvern Pugilist. Paraclete Press (Brewster, Mass., 2011). 224 pp., $23.99.
This book will not have mass appeal, but young readers who love fantasy can immerse themselves in a parallel world of slaying dragons – bad things, obstacles to good. Sir Wyvern holds up as examples the chief dragon slayer (God) and other prominent slayers (the saints). The author’s engaging story-telling, occasional bravado and clever analogies will draw in the reader, and his low-key humor will help keep them turning pages. Maps and illustrations add to this book’s appeal. Younger children will enjoy the fantasy but will need help reading this. Ages 6-12.
“Snowflake Baby,” by Elise Broach, illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. LB Kids (New York, 2011). 14 pp., 7.99.
If I had to pick one book for toddlers, this would be it! Simple two- and three-word sentences and fun, bright illustrations fill this cardboard book, good for little hands. It has seven lift-flaps to peek under, too. Adult readers, brace yourself: This is one of those books that will end with the child request of “Again!” Ages 6 mos.-3.
“The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman,” by Meg Wolitzer. Dutton Children’s Books (New York, 2011). 294 pp., $16.99.
Wolitzer has woven a clever tale of young characters, each with his own conflicts and accomplishments. Like in Scrabble, she builds the pieces of the plot off each other, until they all come together at a national Scrabble tournament in Florida. This is an excellent read: part about growing up, part just adventure. Bonus: occasional Scrabble tips. Ages 10-13.
Barb Fraze has been reviewing children’s books for more than 20 years. Now she reads them to her grandchild.