Picture Books – This is the Firefighter

A company of firefighters is called out to deal with an apartment building on fire in a large city. A young girl’s cat is stuck in a window, while a man and woman anxiously await rescue. But luckily the plucky firefighters manage to save everyone and put out the fire before it spreads to the nearby buildings.

Firefighters are irresistible to a certain audience (often, though not always, preschool boys). There are, therefore, quite a few picture books about firefighters. This one stands out for the particularly interesting illustrations and a clean rhythmic text with a rhyme scheme blessedly free from overly forced rhymes or skewed meter.

The illustrations are filled with a diverse, modern crowd. The people milling about watching the fire from behind barriers showcase the sort of broad population one would find in a large city, from punk-looking teenagers to a woman in a sari to business people. All of the apartment-dwellers appear to be fans of abstract art which seemed odd to me, but will probably go unnoticed by the target audience. While the fire station is very traditional, complete with a dalmation dog, the modern setting comes through strongly. A news van arrives almost immediately, cell phones abound amongst both the crowd and the firefighters, including one picture that looks very much like a woman using her cell phone to take a picture of the fire.

With so much going on in each of the crowd scenes, the book lends itself to being read multiple times, always a key feature amongst books aimed at the toddler/preschool audience.

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