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*Baby Dragon* by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Also by Amy Ehrlich:

Baby Dragon
by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Ages 3-7 32 pages Candlewick August 2008 Hardcover    

Baby Dragon takes fantasy to a new level. Readers have seen Mama Bears and Mama Cats and Mama Birds in children's books. But dragons aren't usually motherly; they're scaly and toothy and fierce.

In Baby Dragon, both mother and child are decidedly cuddly and likeable - anything but ferocious. In fact, small, friendly Baby Dragon will strike a responsive chord in young children, who will relate to him quite well.

The story follows a scenario familiar to all parents: Mother Dragon has to go on on an errand and cautions Baby to stay in a designated safe spot until Mother returns. Baby tries diligently to obey, until he finds that waiting is just too hard. Baby Dragon disobeys her orders and leaves with a seemingly helpful crocodile, and problems ensue.

Parents will recognize the danger Baby Dragon faces and welcome the strong, but not didactic, message that the end of the story delivers. Suffice it to say that Baby Dragon learns Mother Dragon has a reason for giving orders. And children who read this book will learn along with Baby Dragon, without being unduly frightened.

The illustrations are whimsical and playful. With green bodies and orange wings, the two dragons look like a cross between dinosaurs and fairies. The cover illustration, which shows them affectionately nose-to-nose, is a good indication of the genial relationship that unfolds. Illustrator Will Hillenbrand has created the art for at least half a dozen picture books, and he demonstrates here that he can indeeed come up with loveable images even of dragons. More work by him will be very welcome.

Ehrlich's storyline is charming. She is a versatile writer, having published books for young adults as well as small children. Her style is lighthearted and nonjudgmental, and kids will appreciate her imagination.

Both parent and child will welcome Baby Dragon, for very different reasons. Mom and Dad will be glad to find a book that teaches simple rules, and children will enjoy the feeling that they have kinship with a dragon. That's something that doesn't come along very often.

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  Lois Henderlong/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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