Best new books for kids
This season's best new reads for third through fifth graders.
By Susan Freinkel
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.
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