FIREBOAT

THE HEROIC ADVENTURES OF THE JOHN J. HARVEY

It is a truth universally acknowledged that many young children are obsessed with fire-fighting vehicles. Whether this true story of a New York City fireboat will satisfy them remains to be seen. Kalman begins with the familiar bright colors, playful language, and intriguing facts of her previous works (What Pete Ate From A to Z, 2001, etc.). Details of 1931 New York when the Harvey was launched, its crew, its gear, and its work fill these early pages. A jump to 1995, announced on a white page with a small illustration, brings the story of how the Harvey, slated for the scrap heap, is discovered and refurbished by a disparate group of New Yorkers. Then there is another colorless page, this one gray and denuded of illustration, announcing another date: September 11, 2001. What comes next is intense, disturbing, and beautiful. There is that blue sky, those white towers, and the two planes heading for them. Here are the buildings collapsing. There are the fires, day and night. And here is the Harvey and its crew helping along with so many others. A return to cheerful language scattered about a spectacular double spread of the New York City skyline at sunset brings the work to an optimistic conclusion. This well-intentioned, but muddled mix of New York City history, fireboat operation, and 9/11 memorial will need adults on hand to answer the many questions bound to arise. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-399-23953-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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DINOTRUX

From the Dinotrux series

The tough working trucks in Kate and Jim McMullan’s I Stink! (2002) and sequels look like lightweights next to their brawny prehistoric antecedents in Gall’s rousing, grimy full-bleed spreads. Crushing rocks and trees, flattening smaller creatures and sending diminutive cave people fleeing in pop-eyed panic, a round dozen metal behemoths roll by, from towering Craneosaurus—“CRACK, MUNCH. / Look out birds, it’s time for lunch!”—and the grossly incontinent Blacktopodon to a stampede of heavily armored Semisaurs and the “bully of the jungle,” toothy Tyrannosaurus Trux. Why aren’t these motorized monsters with us today? They are, though in the wake of a mighty storm that left most mired in the mud to rust, the survivors went South and, as a climactic foldout reveals, evolved into the more beneficent vehicles we know and love. Dinotrux ruled their world, and now they’re likely to rule this one too. Bellow on! (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-02777-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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