Firefighters in the Dark

Dashka Slater, Author, Nicoletta Ceccoli, Illustrator , illus. by Nicolette Ceccoli. Houghton $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-55459-1

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.)

Reviewed on: 10/09/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Children's
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