Best new books for kids

This season's best new reads for third through fifth graders.

By Susan Freinkel

« Previous Page 1 of 6 Next »

The Flint Heart

By Katherine Paterson and John Paterson; illustrated by John Rocco

Ages: 7 and up

Originally published in 1910, this fairy tale now appears in a new abridged version that has been updated for a modern audience. The story centers on the Flint Heart, a Stone Age talisman that hardens the hearts of its wearers, making them cruel and power-hungry. Lost for 5,000 years, the charm "starts bubbling away with wickedness" when it is unearthed by a kindly farmer. The moment he pockets it, the farmer turns mean — he snarls and shouts and hits his oldest son, Charlie. To rid their father of the evil charm, Charlie and his sister turn for help to a cast of magical creatures, including pixies and, bizarrely, a hot water bottle. The illustrations have a modern animated look (yes, a film is in the works), but the writing retains that wonderfully arch tone of Victorian classics like Winnie-the-Pooh.

Bottom line: The Flint Heart is a wonderfully wacky yarn made for reading aloud, one chapter at a time.

Susan Freinkel is the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story and has written for the New York Times, Discover, Smithsonian, Real Simple, and other national publications.

Comments from readers

"It is well written, but it needs more details. "