Magnus at the Fire


Magnus lives and works at the Broadway Firehouse. He knows that when the fire alarm clangs, he and his partners, Billy and Sparks, are supposed to spring into action. Without them the firemen would never be able to move the gigantic steam pumper. And without a pumper the crew wouldn't be able to put out fires.
Then one day the captain drives into the firehouse on a loud, newfangled contraption called a motorized fire truck. It doesn't need ...

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Magnus lives and works at the Broadway Firehouse. He knows that when the fire alarm clangs, he and his partners, Billy and Sparks, are supposed to spring into action. Without them the firemen would never be able to move the gigantic steam pumper. And without a pumper the crew wouldn't be able to put out fires.
Then one day the captain drives into the firehouse on a loud, newfangled contraption called a motorized fire truck. It doesn't need horses to pull it to a fire. So just like that, Magnus, Sparks, and Billy are out of a job.
A little history, a little humor, and a whole lot of heart are artfully blended in this rousing tale of one high-spirited horse who can't accept being put out to pasture. And thank goodness! Because it's this steadfast sense of duty that ultimately saves the day.

When the Broadway Fire House acquires a motorized fire engine, Magnus the fire horse is not ready to retire.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Magnus the fire horse at the Broadway Firehouse in Hope Springs represents a part of American history. He and his two strong partners are quickly in place when the fire bell sounds, ready to pull the steam pumper and to stand steady no matter how hot the fire or chaotic the situation. Magnus is proud of being considered a hero. One day, however, a motorized fire engine arrives, and the horses are sold away. Still, whenever the fire bell clangs, Magnus feels that he must go. He jumps the fence no matter how high, but at the scene of the fire he is in the way. But when the new engine blows its engine and is too heavy to be moved, the firemen rig up a harness and Magnus manages to pull the engine to the fire in time. A hero again, Magnus finally accepts retirement in the country. The story is exciting; the characters, including Magnus, have real personalities. Smith's double-page scenes emphasize the melodrama of fire-fighting. He uses oil paints to create naturalistic settings with a historic feeling, in which the muscled horses play the starring roles. The engines are lovingly depicted with gleaming brass boilers and bright red tanks, but there is no doubt that the horses are the focus, particularly Magnus. The author adds information on the changing history of firefighting from volunteers passing buckets of water through horse-drawn pumpers to self-propelled fire engines. Note the stirring end-paper illustrations of horses in action in the beginning, and of Magnus peacefully at pasture at the end. 2005, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, Ages 5 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In this stirring historical story, a heroic and determined horse refuses to be put out to pasture after his firefighting days come to an end. Magnus, a mighty gray stallion, and his companions have been trained to pull the heavy steam pumper to fires. One day, the captain returns to the station with a motorized fire engine, and Magnus is put in a nearby field. At the sound of the alarm, he is over the fence and following the truck down the street. The captain considers him a dangerous nuisance until the new engine breaks down and Magnus has the chance to fight one more blaze. Afterward, a retired fireman takes the hero to his farm where he becomes a beloved companion to the man's grandchildren. Impressive oil paintings in vibrant colors capture the drama of firefighting in the 1800s. The horses, particularly Magnus, are striking, especially in their resemblance to the powerful war horses of Renaissance art. Tension is etched on the faces of the men as they hasten to a burning building, but there are also moments of empathy between them and the animals. The exciting spreads will pull readers into the action. This is a fine tribute to the four-legged "smoke eaters" that bravely served their communities.-Carol Schene, Taunton Public Schools, MA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Shrugging off attempts to replace him with a motorized truck, an old fire horse breaks through fences whenever he hears the bell, and not only beats the newfangled engine to fires repeatedly, to the annoyance of the Captain, but comes through in the clutch when the machine breaks down. Armstrong tells this dramatic historical tale in suitably rousing fashion-"He followed the smell of smoke, galloping down Long Alley and over another two fences, his mane and tail flaring out behind him like flames. . . . " Smith uses WPA mural-style figures and colors to illustrate it, placing burly firefighters around a monumentally muscled grey, all in heroic poses and viewed from low angles for a larger-than-life look. Even glimpsed in final, well-earned retirement far from the city, where the only flames come from autumn bonfires, Magnus cuts an awesome figure. Children, horse lovers or no, will long remember him. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689839221
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/26/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,507,885
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: AD950L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.25 (w) x 14.06 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Armstrong is the author of numerous award-winning picture books and novels. Her works include Hugh Can Do and Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat (both ALA Notable books); The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan (a BCCB Blue Ribbon Book); and Black-Eyed Susan (a New York Public Library Best Book). Her first novel, Steal Away, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Notable book, and a Golden Kite Honor book. Other titles include Pockets, Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World, Magnus at the Fire, Photo by Brady, and Once Upon a Banana. She lives in New York State.

Owen Smith's illustrations have appeared in Time, Esquire, Rolling Stone, the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, and numerous times on the cover of the New Yorker. Influenced by WPA artists of the 1930s and muralist Diego Rivera, Smith holds a BA from the Arts Center College in Pasadena. He is internationally renowned, and his paintings have been featured in exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Rome, and Milan. His first picture book, Ray Hicks's The Jack Tales, was published in 2000. Owen lives with his wife and two sons in Alameda, California.

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