Kids a little too young for Harry Potter? Here’s something fun for them to read this summer, too

Working as the dean of St. Thomas’ Graduate School of Professional Psychology by day keeps him busy enough, but when he’s not doing what deans do, Dr. David Welch has an interesting second "gig": as children’s book author.

Dr. David Welch

A few years ago Welch and his son Daniel, a 1998 Macalester graduate, came up with an idea for a kids’ book about finding the courage to help someone. The result of their collaboration is The Little Leopard (14 pages, Trafford Publishing, 2004) by Daniel Davidson – a pen name for the co-authors.

The junior Welch, a fourth-grade teacher in Superior, Colo., created the book’s charming and colorful illustrations.

The Little Leopard, for 4- to 8-year-old readers, is populated with animals from eastern Africa: giraffes, hyenas, zebras, leopards, elephants, lions and birds. Their names come from Swahili, so the book can serve as an interesting introduction to world languages and cultures.

The book’s title character is Paka, who finds himself atop a burning tree started by a mischievous lion cub, Tofali. Abu the giraffe has to overcome his dislike of leopards if he’s going to help Paka. The moral of the story: "Giraffes have long necks, and sometimes you have to stick your neck out to get something done."

The Little Leopard is $8.99 and available directly from Trafford, via amazon.com, and at St. Paul’s Red Balloon Bookshop, 891 Grand Ave.

Dave and Dan are already at work on a sequel, so look for more from the pair.