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Paulette Bourgeois. Illustrated by Kim LaFave.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1991.
32pp., cloth, $11.95.
ISBN 1-55074-042-3. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Fire fighters-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Fire extinction-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Fire prevention-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7

Reviewed by Alison Mews.

Volume 19 Number 4
1991 September

This delightful collaboration of writer Paulette Bourgeois and illustrator Kim LaFave belongs to the new "In My Neighbourhood" series. The series uses picture-book format to present information about community workers to Primary children.

Canadian Fire Fighters begins with a typical apartment fire scenario and leads children through the steps taken to bring the fire under control. Bourgeois adopts a story-teller's tone rather than using the usual non-fiction factual language. This makes the book more accessible to its young audience but imparts less actual information.

LaFave's humorous illustrations are an essential part of the book, as they explain visually what is briefly described in the text. For instance, LaFave uses a full-page spread to depict the discovery of the fire, including cartonlike boxes to show the family crawling under the smoke and going downstairs to the superintendent's apartment to call for help. On the next page his picture of the dispatcher receiving the call actually defines the term dispatcher, which is used in the text without explanation. (There is no glossary, which would have been helpful.) The illustrations are also to be commended for their non-sexist and multi-racial nature, which is implicit in the terminology used.

In addition to discussing fire fighters, both urban and rural, the book outlines eight fire prevention rules children should follow and gives a number of fire safety tips and activities to be practised at home. While not strictly on the topic, these inclusions do add to the usefulness of the book, both in the classroom and in the home. Many of the book's concepts will need elaboration by an adult, but as a spring-board to discussion and as an introduction to the topic, this collaboration is very successful. I look forward the the other volumes in the series.

Alison Mews, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NF.
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