As she drifts off to sleep, a girl hears the sirens emerging from the fire station near her house. "I know where they are going," she tells herself, launching into three fantasies about first responders King, Penelope, Almondine and Bruce as she imagines their names to be and their unusual missions. The team saves 15 baby princesses trapped in a burning castle when a fire-breathing dragon accidentally blows too hard to cool off his dinner; they speed "all the way [to] Mexico" to save a lady gardener whose tongue shoots sparks when she nibbles on a hot pepper; and they dispatch their aerial ladder "past the moon and Mars and Venus" to rescue a boy whose bed-bouncing has launched him to Pluto. Although the goings-on walk a thin line between fantasy and nightmare, the calm, confident tone of the young narrator continually assures readers that she's firmly in control. Slater and Ceccoli are ideally paired, with the incantatory rhythms of the prose mirroring the velvety surfaces and Zen-like vibe of the acrylic and pastel paintings. The result is a book that's both engrossing and lulling a wonderfully offbeat choice for bedtime. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children are fascinated by firemen and fire trucks and they will enjoy this imaginative tale. Slater has created a story of a little girl living near a fire station, who dreams of the firemen and their trucks at night. Her active imagination creates a dragon who tries to cool his food by blowing on it, thus setting fire to the castle. The firemen rush in to save the castle and its occupants, which includes fifteen princesses. There is a fire in Mexico when a woman "nibbled on a pepper." Sparks fly from her mouth sending burning embers that require the firefighters to put them out with their hoses and water. In return the lady gives them poppies and zucchinis. The firefighters, King, Penelope, Almondine, and Bruce, perform other heroic feats and sometimes come by in their truck to take the girl for a ride through the night sky to cool down the stars. The illustrations by Nicoletta Ceccoli complement Slater's writing. Ceccoli's use of pastels with acrylics, soften the illustrations and give the impression of quiet, as a child sleeps and dreams. This story will delight children as they hear about some of their favorite people, firemen.
Children's Literature - Naomi Williamson
PreS-Gr 1-Snug in her bed, a youngster hears a distant siren and dreams of firefighters' brave escapades. With the refrain, "What happened was this," she relates several imaginary adventures. The squad saves a castle full of princesses after a dragon blows on his food and starts a fire, cools a woman's mouth after she eats a hot pepper, and rescues a boy who bounces off his bed and lands on Pluto. The girl also concocts personalities for the diverse crew members, down to their favorite foods. Finally, the firefighters come to ask for her help in extinguishing the stars from the night sky. Slater's rhythmic, sometimes rhyming prose captures the child's enthusiasm, though unusual phrasings may trip up unpracticed readers while sharing the book aloud. Ceccoli's dreamy, luminescent paintings perfectly suit the story. The heroes' round faces are kind and lovable. Observant youngsters will note that the firefighters' "yellow and black boots" appear as yellow and blue, but this minor inconsistency will give way to delight at the image of the dragon at the table with fork and knife in hand, or the view up through city buildings of an exuberant boy tumbling through the air. A perfect choice for bedtime reading.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Ceccoli's beautiful, lyrical illustrations, in acrylics and pastels, give a mythic quality to Slater's tale of firefighting derring-do, told by a little girl snugly asleep in her bed and imagining where the sirens are going. The fire truck pulls up to a castle, set on fire by a dragon who hastily blew on his potatoes to cool them. Next, they go to Mexico to help a lady who ignited a house fire by eating a very hot pepper. Then, it's on to a baby boy who bounced so high on his bed he flew out the window. In between these exploits, the foursome (King, Penelope, Almondine and Bruce) eat their favorite foods and wash off the ash from their work. And sometimes, King puts his ladder up against the little girl's tall pink house, climbs to her window and gives her a hose to spray away the fire in the stars. Endearingly, Slater captures a young child's view of the world and a very different role for firefighters than usually seen by this audience. (Picture book. 3-7)