While the vocabulary is certainly easy and limited (alone and chief are the two hardest words), beginning readers will have...

FIREMAN FRED

From the I Like To Read series

A title for beginning readers, this entry in the I Like to Read series follows Fireman Fred from the firehouse, out on a call and back again.

The napping Fred, asleep in his gear on what appears to be a wooden table with wheels, his hat on the floor beside him, is awoken by the fire alarm. The firefighters rush to the truck: “ ‘Run! Run,’ calls the chief.” Arriving at a house with bright orange flames coming out the upper window, the firefighters get the hose and extinguish the fire. They then rescue a woman’s cat (“Mew, mew”) from a tree and try to find the owner of a yipping dog. Failing that, Fred rides back to the firehouse with the dog, and the two curl up together on a real bed for a nap, though Fred’s gear is still either on him or scattered on the floor. Indeed, firefighting purists will cringe at Reed’s trademark gouache artwork. Her firefighters, rather than looking confident and professional, seem disorganized and even dismayed, their arms flailing about. There is no talk of taking care of gear nor anything about fire safety, and sadly, firefighting is reduced to putting out fires and rescuing cats stuck in trees.

While the vocabulary is certainly easy and limited (alone and chief are the two hardest words), beginning readers will have heard enough stories about firefighters to spot the problems. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2658-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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