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FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

Maira Kalman, Author
Maira Kalman, Author . Putnam $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-399-23953-3
Reviewed on: 07/29/2002
Release date: 08/01/2002
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59112-984-4
Hardcover - 978-1-59112-988-2
Paperback - 48 pages - 978-0-14-240362-4
Video, VHS Format - 978-0-8045-9699-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59112-983-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-59112-985-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-59112-987-5
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0538-2
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In relating the heroic role of the John J. Harvey on September 11, Kalman (Next Stop Grand Central) intelligently conveys those unfathomable events in a way that a picture book audience can comprehend. She begins with the year 1931, which saw some of New York City's finest hours: "Amazing things were happening big and small./ The Empire State Building went up up up." She continues with the completion of the George Washington Bridge, then zeroes in on the launching of the John J. Harvey, "the largest, fastest and shiniest fireboat of them all." Spot illustrations show its equipment and introduce the crew (including "a dog named Smokey, who did not put out the fires but had many nice spots"), while views of the New York harbor stretch across a spread. She then fast-forwards to 1995: "New York was changing. The Twin Towers were now the tallest buildings in New York City." But the piers are also closing, so the fireboat rests in retirement. One night, a group of friends decide over dinner to restore the John J. Harvey to its original glory. Next, the volume takes an abrupt turn. White type on a black page announces: "But then on September 11, 2001 something so huge and horrible happened that the whole world shook." A sequence of spreads shows the towers literally exploding in dark, angry brushstrokes of black and gray and orange, followed by the many heroes who "sprang into action," including the John J. Harvey. With this inspiring book, Kalman (Next Stop Grand Central) sensitively handles a difficult subject in an age-appropriate manner. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)

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