Themed Reviews

Fire Prevention Week--October 3rd-9th, 2010

This year’s official Fire Prevention Week theme is Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With. Designed to educate people about the importance of smoke alarms and encourage everyone to take the necessary steps to update and maintain their home smoke alarms.

President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation in 1920 declaring the first National Fire Prevention Day and Fire Prevention Week has been observed annually since 1922. This awareness week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed over 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire started on October 8th and did not stop until the following day.

Sparky the Fire Dog has been the official mascot of Fire Prevention Week since 1951. His job is to teach children about fire safety. He even has his own website: and

Visit for further information regarding fire safety.

Contributor: Emily Griffin


The Buddy Files: The Case of the Fire Alarm
Dori Hillestad Butler
Illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau
   Who pulled the fire alarm? Buddy must gather the evidence to find the answer. Buddy is a canine that is adopted by Connor and his mother. This dog detective begins his duty as a therapy dog at Four Lakes Elementary School where Connor’s mother is the principal. His first day as a therapy dog is interrupted when the fire alarm goes off and it is a false alarm. The canine detective’s first order of business is assisting the humans in tracking the person who pulled the alarm. He sniffs out the clues and the truth with his detecting skills and some dog sense. The four-legged detective carefully considers the evidence and the list of suspects. He confers with his friends Jazzy, Mouse, and Cat with No Name to figure who is responsible for pulling the alarm. This adventure is filled with doggy humor, fun, and mystery as Buddy tells the story from his point of view. This case is the fourth one in “The Buddy Files” detective series. 2010, Albert Whitman & Company, Ages 7 to 9, $14.99. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-8075-0913-5

Curious George and the Firefighters/Jorge el curioso y los bomberos
Margaret & H. A. Rey
Illustrations by Anna Grossnickle Hines
Translated by Carlos E. Calvo
   Curious George leaves either chaos or fun wherever he goes. This time he brings fun to a scary situation. The book begins with a class fieldtrip to the fire station with George and the Man in the Yellow Hat in tow. The kids are in the midst of their tour, and George in the process of mixing and matching the firefighters’ fire gear, when the siren sounds. The firefighters get their proper hats, boots, and coats on, and leave the station to put out the fire but unbeknownst to the firemen George is in tow. Upon arriving at the scene of the fire George is in awe of the firemen’s work and is eager to help when a fireman tells him that a fire is no place for a monkey and leads him to a safe spot nearby. Disappointed, George tries to occupy himself and manages to cheer up a scared little girl in the process. George proves to be a perfect distraction with the kids who were afraid of the fiery building. The firemen quickly recognize George’s usefulness and give all of the kids a ride on the fire truck. George is unfalteringly a hit because he is childhood personified. The curiosity, energy, chaos, and just plain fun reassure kids that it is okay to explore the unknown. George captures the attention of little readers across all generations better than most characters and the translation into Spanish has just opened an entire group of children to the fun that is George. 2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Ages 2 to 6, $3.99. Reviewer: Mandy Cruz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-547-29964-8

Elliot’s Fire Truck
Andrea Beck
   As the newest title about a stuffed toy moose named Elliot, this is sure to be a big hit with youngsters. Fire trucks and firefighting are of great interest to many young children. This gentle tale of all the toys wanting to be firefighters and none wanting to be “rescued” is certain to be requested again and again at story hour. The pencil crayon illustrations add greatly to the book’s enjoyment as they portray all of the action and emotion of the toys as they pile onto the fire engine to scurry to the next rescue site. Elliot and Socks rush off to rescue Paisley who joins them as they hurry to save Amy who quickly jumps onto the shiny, red truck. Elliot persuades the bear cubs, Snowy and Puff, to be rescued before they are allowed to ride on the truck. As they speed down the hallway to answer the cries for help from the cubs, they smash into the banister and fly head over heels through the railing. Elliot is grasping the truck’s ladder, Socks is hanging from the hose as Amy and Paisley hold onto Socks. Cries for help are real now and the cubs shout, “We’ll save you!” Thinking fast, Snowy and Puff collect pillows, pile them on the floor and hold a blanket taut over the heap. One by one, the animals fall to safety. Introduce this book to boys and girls and watch all the others about Elliot zoom in popularity. Purchase is recommended. 2010, Orca Book Publishers, Ages 3 to 6, $19.95. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-1-55469-143-2

Amanda Askew
Illustrations by Andrew Crowson
   In this entry in a series of six books designed to introduce young children to important community helpers, readers follow Jack the firefighter through a representative day, beginning with checking equipment as he arrives at the station to putting out a fire that started in the school lunchroom. Clearly the idea is to give a series of snapshots rather than a dramatic plot. The easy-to-read text is accompanied by brightly colored illustrations that are somewhat stylized, but there is enough detail about equipment to satisfy young readers. A full rainbow of ethnicities populates the illustrations. The final page provides a glossary of key terms that are bold-faced in the text. With the popularity of Community Helpers theme studies in pre-K and kindergartens, the “People Who Help Us” series could be a solid choice for a school or classroom library. 2010, Black Rabbit Books, Ages 4 to 7, $16.95. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-1-59566-992-0

Mark Teague
   Edward and Judy visit a firehouse because Edwards wants to become a firefighter. It is not all fun and games--the first thing the Fire Chief wants them to do is help wash the fire truck. They go up to the crew’s quarters and the game of cards that he and Judy were playing is interrupted by a fire alarm bell. Everyone gets into their gear and slides down to the truck. Edward is literally hanging on to the back of the truck by his fingers. There is a bit of a mishap at the fire hydrant when the stream of water knocks Edward over. It takes teamwork to handle the hoses and climb up the ladder. This was a drill, but no sooner do they return to the firehouse when the alarm goes off again and this time it is a real emergency. (Although I am not sure that firefighters still will come and rescue cats caught up in trees). Teague’s collection of canines are amusing and expressive and kids will have fun looking for the little mice dressed as firefighters in nearly every scene, including the closing one where a tucked out Edward is fast asleep with the kitten he rescued sitting on his bed. 2010, Orchard Books/Scholastic, $16.99. Ages 3 to 5. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780439915007
ISBN: 0439915007

Fire Drill
Paul DuBois Jacobs and Jennifer Swender
Illustrated by Huy Voun Lee
   In this classroom, young students are learning many lessons--from getting along with each other, to putting puzzles together, to painting and singing. Their most important lesson though is learning to listen to their teacher. Suddenly, a loud bell sounds and the children must be quiet to find out what they should do. A poster on the wall, FIRE DRILL RULES, suddenly becomes the focus. It is time for the children to follow the rules, and wait patiently for their teacher to say, “Okay!” Then it is back to fun. This is a very age appropriate book that teaches young children the importance of fire drills and listening to their teachers. Illustrations are bright and colorful, easily engaging children’s eyes and interest. Also, the clever illustrations are replete with an array of patterns. The text is simple and easy for children to understand and absorb. This is a wonderful book every elementary class should start with, and refer to during the school months. 2010, Henry Holt/Macmillan, Ages 4 to 7, $15.99. Reviewer: Debby Willett (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8953-0

Fire Engines
Ann Becker
   Have you ever been on the road and heard the loud wailing of a siren around you? If it is nearby, then you know that whoever is driving the vehicle that you are in will pull over to the right to let the emergency vehicle through. Often it is a fire engine. It may be off to put out a fire or to rescue someone who has been in an accident. There are many different types of fire trucks. One that is probably the most familiar is the pumper which has hoses and carries its own water. It also has the ability to hook up to a fire hydrant to keep the supply of water flowing. Another truck that kids often see is the ladder truck which can reach people trapped in a building. The firefighters may be perched on a ladder and hold hoses to put out a fire or some of the big trucks are strong enough to pull down walls. One of the biggest trucks is called a tiller truck--the ladder is actually attached to a trailer that the truck pulls. These big trucks need two drivers--one in the front and the other in the back. The variety is fascinating and so are the photographs of some of the vintage fire tucks compared to their modern equivalents. In addition to trucks, other vehicles such as air tankers and fireboats are used to fight fires and rescue people. The closing pages recap the trucks, present some interesting facts, and provide a brief glossary, index and a few Internet sites. Part of the “Amazing Machines” series. 2009, Marshall Cavendish, $19.95. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761444039
ISBN: 0761444033

The Firehouse Light
Janet Nolan
Illustrated by Marie Lafrance
   The true story of the miraculous firehouse light begins in the days of horse-drawn buggies. When there is a fire in a small town one night, the volunteers must light a lantern to get the firefighting equipment from its shed. One day they receive a gift: a wire burning in a glass ball--a four-watt lightbulb. They take the bulb with them ten years later to a new firehouse, where it keeps burning. Autos replace buggies, and after twenty years, despite brighter bulbs, the firefighters keep the bulb burning. Thirty years later, as children watch moving pictures, the bulb burns on. In forty years, as the bulb burns, trains and planes arrive in town. After fifty years, the town has grown. Firefighters are paid rather than volunteers. Sixty years pass, then seventy, eighty, ninety, and one hundred. A birthday party celebrates the still-burning bulb. Lafrance creates a dollhouse-like town; acrylic paints produce smooth surfaces, smoothly articulated people, and sharply defined details. The double-page scenes clearly display the changing technology while keeping the focus on the amazing light that will not quit. A note fills in the details on the actual bulb given in 1901 to the firefighters of Livermore, California, complete with photo. 2010, Tricycle Press/Crown Publishing Group/Random House, Ages 5 to 9, $15.99. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-1-58246-298-1
ISBN: 1-58246-298-4

Fire Safety
Dana Meachen Rau
   In this addition to the “Safe Kids” series, the author teaches about how to be safe when preventing and dealing with fires. Each page has a fire safety tip that is explained on the left in clear, short sentences printed in a large font. On the right-hand page of each spread is a color photograph that corresponds to the safety tip on the left. These tips progress from small, everyday tips to tips that can save lives endangered by fire. For example, the first tip is: “Never play with matches. One small match can start a big fire.” The text then progresses through tips about candles, flames on a stove, fireplaces, and smoke detectors before getting into all the basic tips about what to do if caught in a fire (e.g., not hiding from the firefighters; staying low to the ground; not going through doors that feel hot; stop, drop, & roll; and having a designated place outside to meet family members). With an index, a brief list of challenge words, and a visual picture/word list of “Be Safe” reminders at the end of the book, this is a good resource for beginning readers who want to learn how to practice fire safety. 2009, Book Worms/Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Joella Peterson (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9780761440918
ISBN: 0761440917

Firefighter Ted
Andrea Beaty
Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre
   When Ted awakens to the smell of smoke, he knows he must act quickly if he is to save his house from burning. So when no firefighter can be found, he suits up, finds a fire truck and extinguisher, and rushes to the rescue--which would be fine, except that the smoke was just some scorched toast his mother made him for breakfast. En route to school, Firefighter Ted “rescues” a kitten and some puppies from the hot sidewalk, keeps the principal from overheating, and leads the parade his class makes as they trek to the school science fair. Just when everyone fears they cannot stand any more help from Firefighter Ted, he really does save the day when someone’s science fair project sets the principal’s pants on fire. Andrea Beaty’s tongue-in-cheek look at the imaginative play of one young bear is sure to be a hit during story time, especially with youngsters familiar with the first title starring Ted, Doctor Ted. Pascal Lemaitre’s brightly colored illustrations perfectly capture both Ted’s pride in his heroism and the long suffering of his mother, teacher, and principal. While a solid choice for introducing fire safety to children, this story will be requested many times for its sheer kid-appeal. 2009, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, $15.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781416928218
ISBN: 1416928219

Fire Trucks on the Move
Judith Jango-Cohen
   Young readers will delight in this thirty-two page book filled with words they can read and pictures that closely match the text. Four short chapters plus a fire truck diagram, fun facts, a glossary, extra reading and an index make up this early reader in the “Vroom, Vroom” series. Sound words “splash, sizzle, whee-ooo, whee-ooo” add to the reading fun. Bright, colorful, close-up photos bring the fire to life and place the reader close to the action. Captions related to the photos also work as sidebars to add more information to the text. Readers find out what a fire truck carries, how the trucks go to a fire, what fire fighters do when they get to a fire, and fire truck equipment that can reach fires way up high. They will also discover how many wheels are on the truck and that a fire truck is like a big tool box. End-of-book facts tell readers that fire trucks can cost as much as forty cars, early trucks had horses for power not engines, and why some fire trucks are painted yellow instead of red. All in all, the pace of the books keeps rolling along to hold the interest of youngsters in grades K through three. 2010, Lerner, Ages 5 to 8, $25.26. Reviewer: Nancy Attebury (Children’s Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-7613-6023-0

Chris Lynch
   Russell never expected his firefighting father to actually die in a house fire. His father was a local hero, known as “Beast” to his fellow firefighters and Russell plans to become a firefighter just like him. Russell’s friend DJ’s father also died. Both men were longtime buddies and firefighters, and they lost their lives together. As funerals and barbeques are arranged to celebrate both men’s lives, Russell and DJ have different means of coping with their fathers’ deaths. Russell strives to keep the memory of his hero father alive, whereas DJ grieves silently and alone. When details about the deathly house fire emerge, including the fact that both men were using drugs and alcohol prior to the house fire, Russell’s image of his father is shattered. Telling the story from Russell’s point-of-view with multiple flashbacks, the author gracefully weaves the relationship between father and son, the challenges of a firefighter’s life, and the truth of bravery, hero worship, and finding the hero within oneself. 2010, HarperTeen/HarperCollins, Ages 14 up, $16.99. Reviewer: Jody J. Little (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 978-0-06-167379-5

Max Goes to the Fire Station
Adria F. Klein
Illustrated by Mernie Gallagher-Cole
   Max and his class are excited to visit the local fire station. They find out all about firemen. The children get to see where the firemen live while on duty. They learn how they keep people safe. They are taught about fire safety. One fireman teaches the children about campfires. He tells them how to put them out safely. Max and the children get to view the fire trucks. The firefighters show the children the hose. The children learn how to hold it and how it goes back into the truck to get ready for the next fire. A fireman wears special gear to help fight fires. The children watch as a fireman shows the children the proper clothes needed to protect him. Max is thrilled as he hears the siren and watches the fireman slide down the big pole! Some of the children want to be firefighters when they grow up. This educational book will help children learn about firemen and the fire station. This book could be read and discussed with a class before or after they visited a fire station. The colorful illustrations demonstrate the aspects of the story to help the children understand better. 2009, Picture Window Books, $19.99. Ages 4 to 7. Reviewer: Cathi I. White (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781404852662

Poems About Fire
Andrew Fusek Peters
   Fire, warmth, light, celebrations, destruction, mythology, history and folklore. These are all topics covered by the poets as they write about fire. Here Aileen Fisher joins J. Patrick Lewis, Robert Louis Stevenson and other English poets to picture different kinds of fire in life. Some of the events mentioned here will have little frame of reference for young readers by themselves: Annus Mirabilis, Prometheus, Icarus, the Great Fire. But the poems will provide a teachable moment and the language is rich in imagery. While a poem alluding to Blake’s “Tyger! Tyger! Burning Bright” is included, Blake’s poem is not. This is not a matter of difficulty as Blake’s poem is easily found in other anthologies. Color photographs are used to illustrate many of the pages. An index is provided and acknowledgements. This collection will be equally at home in classroom, science lab, or library while writing teachers would find it a natural for poetry study. All in all a well-done series. 2008, Cherrytree Books, $27.10. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Leslie Greaves Radloff (Children's Literature).
ISBN: 9781842345214

To view the reviews in an earlier feature on this topic, click here.

Updated 08/16/10


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