cover image FIRE! FIRE! HURRY! HURRY!


Andrea Zimmerman, , illus. by Karen Barbour. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029759-6

Pitching this upbeat firehouse adventure to preschoolers, Zimmerman and Clemesha (Trashy Town) and Barbour (I Have an Olive Tree) ably stoke children's admiration for firefighters without fanning any fears. As the firehouse crew readies for dinner,

Barbour's zippy, candy-colored gouaches marshal an all-animal cast: a striped cat sits next to a pink mouse; a green elephant and a Dalmatian finish a game of checkers and a lion carries in a platter of spaghetti. But the alarm sounds ("Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!") and the firefighters rush off to the flower shop: "Fire! Fire! Hotter! Hotter!/ Hurry! Hurry! Water! Water!" While a few curlicues of smoke float almost benignly at the top of the busy spread, readers' attention is more likely to be drawn to the confetti-patterned flower shop or the firefighters as they matter-of-factly work their firehose. The plot repeats several times, with the firefighters returning to their dinners but again interrupted by the alarm. This construction is both funny and judicious: it gives kids a sense of control over what would otherwise be chaotic, and it invites them to join in on what becomes a refrain of "Fire! Fire!..." There's just enough onomatopoeia to let readers try out their own siren sounds without tipping into three-alarm noisemaking, and a bedtime ending winds the proceedings to a calm close. Ages 4-up. (May)