When his mother has to fly away one afternoon, she leaves Baby Dragon by the big fern on the riverbank with the instruction to wait for her there till she arrives back next morning. Baby Dragon waits, getting sadder and sadder, until Crocodile glides by with a tempting offer: he will take Baby Dragon to find his mother. Only when they are gliding down the river is Crocodile's evil intent revealed - and Baby Dragon realizes he must jump to save his skin and see his mother again.
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Amy Ehrlich has written more than thirty books for children, including JOYRIDE (a Booklist Best Book of the Decade) and RACHEL: THE STORY OF RACHEL CARSON. She is also the editor of the award-winning anthology WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE. She lives in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
Will Hillenbrand is the illustrator of many children's books, including THIS LITTLE PIGGY, edited by Jane Yolen, and KISS THE COW! by Phyllis Root. He is also the author-illustrator of DOWN BY THE STATION. He lives in Terrace Park, Ohio.
PreSchool-Grade 1—When Baby Dragon's mother must leave him alone overnight, she warms his face, tickles his tail, and tells him she will return in the morning. He must wait by the red fern near the river for her, and he does. He does not play with Frog or go away with Weasel, but he becomes sadder and sadder as he waits. When Crocodile offers to take Baby Dragon to his mother, he climbs on Crocodile's back. The wind sings to him in his mother's voice, and he escapes the reptile's trickery by jumping onto a log. Then step by weary step he follows the riverbank through moonlight and starlight back to the familiar red fern. His mother finds him there in the morning. As he curls up with her and warms her face with his breath, she assures him that she will always come back. Hillenbrand's illustrations, done with ink, colored pencil, finger paint, gouache, and collage, and digitally manipulated, bring to life Baby Dragon's misty tropical forest where water buffaloes wander and storks splash in the river. The crocodile's heavy-lidded, yellow eyes and large jaws contrast sharply with the gentle faces of the dragons. Young children—especially those who have been sad and lonely in their parents' absence—will find comfort in this lovely, reassuring tale.—Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
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