Dragons and Marshmallows

illus. by Marion Lindsay. 96p. (Zoey and Sassafras: Bk. 1). glossary. Innovation. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781943147083; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781943147090.
Gr 1–3—Zoey and her cat, Sassafras, love to explore, play pretend, and learn. They make an excellent team. Unfortunately, Zoey is feeling blue because her mom is leaving for a work conference. While her mom finishes packing, Zoey makes a big discovery: a photograph that glows purple, hidden amongst her mom's papers. Zoey learns that magical animals come to the family's barn when they need assistance. With her mom away, it is up to Zoey and Sassafras to aid a sick baby dragon. Zoey puts her Thinking Goggles to work as she researches how to help the dragon. The book relies heavily on STEM themes (Zoey creates an experiment, considers a hypothesis, and gathers evidence), but the story line does not suffer. Concepts are explained concisely and clearly, and a short glossary provides valuable vocabulary building. The slightly larger font makes the text inviting for emerging readers, and the illustrations blend perfectly into the story. Sassafras and the dragon prove to be able sidekicks in the vein of Disney characters, which will appeal to readers. An African American family takes center stage, something not often seen in early chapter books.
VERDICT This book is a natural fit for STEM collections and deserves a place in all libraries serving young readers.

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