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Tiny Tails Spark
by Kallie George
Illustrated by Geneviève Côté
AGES: 5 to 8
SIZE: 6 x 9
HARDCOVER: 978-1-927018-24-8

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

A Best Book for Kids and Teens Pick, Spring 2014, Canadian Children's Book Centre 

"A lovely little book" - Betsy Bird, New York Children's Libarian, Fuse #8


Publisher's Weekly - 

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 5–8. (Oct.)


Booklist: This first title in the new Tiny Tails early reader series introduces Spark, a slip of a dragon. But despite his small size, he has a problem: he can’t control his fiery flame. In three short chapters, Spark’s parents give him lessons to help him learn to blow gently. They hand him marshmallows to toast, but they’re quickly charred. They give him a stack of plates to dry, but the force of the flame breaks them. They tell him, “Dream about blowing out very gently. Dream about little flames,” but he practically sets his room on fire (thankfully he has a fireproof bed and pillow). It’s only after time passes that Spark is able to master his flame—and he is awfully proud of his accomplishment (“Yay!”). George’s text is fun and playful, while Côté’s dumpling of a green dragon is eager and expressive. This speaks volumes about the difficulties of being patient, and that’s something every kid will understand.



Kirkus Review: An aptly named little dragon has trouble controlling his flame—but, as with Leo the Late Bloomer, it’s just a matter of time.

Having read a parenting book, Spark’s Mama and Papa try proactive strategies (dubbed “lessons” in the table of contents, though it’s unclear who learns what, if anything): giving him a bag of marshmallows to roast; inviting him to help dry dishes; urging him to dream at night about breathing gentle, little flames. After these all end in smoky minor catastrophes, Papa promises the fretful Spark that in time he’ll be more in control. Indeed, in an amusing twist, he ultimately succeeds in lighting the candles on his own birthday cake without mishap…and then, understandably, refuses to blow them out. In soft, simply drawn cartoon illustrations, Côté places a family of dumpy-looking green dragons with small but decorative orange wings and ears in minimally detailed settings and endows them with human expressions and gestures.

“YAY!” Spark yells at the end. “I did it!” Reassurance for newly independent readers with, if not identical, at least corresponding concerns. (Early reader. 5-7)



National Reading Campaign- 
Spark is irresistible. ... George’s rhythmic text moves along with just the right amount of repetition to build expectation, and gives the dramatic reader a number of satisfying fire noises to make (CRACKLE! WHOOSH! PIFF!). As the story unfolds, Côté’s endearing illustrations provide a whimsical peek into the world the dragons inhabit—which is quite similar to ours, but funnier. There are smiles on every page for both adults and children, including a familiar scene when his parents resort to a book to tell them how to help Spark with his fiery problem. This gentle, amusing story will have children wanting to read it again and again.

Quill & Quire:

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 reading through them. The harmony between author Kallie George’s beautifully paced, sweetly humorous text and Genevieve Cote’s whimsical illustrations also elevate the simple tale.

            The handmade quality of Cote’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”. 


CM Review:


Whatever is a little dragon to do when he can't control his fire? That's the dilemma facing Spark, the charming star of Kallie George's early reader, Spark.

internal art      Poor Spark just can't seem to get his fire-breathing right. His attempt to toast marshmallows ends with a WHOOSH and a CRACKLE CRACKLE, and drying the dishes results in a WHOOSH and a CRACK CRACK. Even Spark's dreams of fire turn into a POOF of smoke and flame. Spark begins to fear that he might never get the hang of being a fire-breathing dragon like his Mama and his Papa. But as Spark, and young readers, will discover, sometimes getting it right just takes time.

      George's short, simple sentences will engage emerging readers, and the sound effects (WHOOSH, CRACK, POOF) make Spark a delight to read aloud. Spark's boundless enthusiasm and determination will enchant readers, and the story's gentle encouragement will reassure young children facing their own challenges.

      Geneviève Côté's playful, childlike illustrations are filled with warmth, and bring Spark and his loveable family and friends to life.

"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. ... 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. 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. - Jen Robinson's Book Page


Filled with cute illustrations this is a great book for a beginner reader. - Feed a Reader blogspot


Library of Clean Reads: 

This was an adorable book about taking the time to acquire a skill. For Spark, the too cute dragon, it was learning to tame his fiery flame. Spark practiced and practiced and his attempts are cute and comical. Kids may struggle to learn skills like riding a bicycle, skipping rope or playing a sport, and this story is a reminder that these skills take time. All kids learn at different rates.

This book is a good beginner reader’s chapter book; the perfect book for early readers. The sketchy watercolor illustrations are simple and cute, and match well with the story. I was pleased to learn that the illustrator Geneviève Côté lives in the same city I do, Montreal, Quebec.

This a great start to the Tiny Tails series. Recommended for all young readers. 

Resource Links - Excellent


Spark is the first book in the Tiny Tales Series. Spark is a little dragon who is learning how to manage his fiery breath. He has many unsuccessful practice sessions as he attempts to toast marshmallows, dry dishes and even dream safely at night. Finally, he is able to light his candles at his birthday party without mishap. This is a story of perseverance and growing up. Everyone can improve with practice.

This is an excellent beginner text for early readers. Sentences are manageably short. The repetition built into the story helps make the reading more predictable.

The illustrations are well-matched to the text and provide support for a beginning reader. Cote’s gentle watercolours bring out the humour in Spark’s accidents with fire.

Thematic Links: Growing Up; Family; Perseverance; Dragons; Humour