cover image Fire Truck vs. Dragon

Fire Truck vs. Dragon

Chris Barton, illus. by Shanda McCloskey. Little, Brown, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-52213-7

This time, the joke is on readers: unlike the rivals in Shark vs. Train, Fire Truck and Dragon are besties (“We get along great!” says Fire Truck. “Why wouldn’t we?”). Each time there’s a possible confrontation involving Dragon’s incendiary talents and Fire Truck’s capacity to extinguish them, the result is comically companionable. Looking forward to what will happen when the two show up at the same cookout or barbecue? Dragon proudly brings homemade free-range potato salad, and a beaming Fire Truck provides “my famous firehouse beans.” “Is there something more they want to see from us? Something in particular?” Dragon innocently asks after yet another potential showdown ends on a benevolent note. They finally agree to “Facing off!!” (“Who will win?” says Dragon tantalizingly), which results in a staring contest. “I thought that... would be a crowd-pleaser,” says Dragon, puzzled. Frustrated expectations have seldom been so funny; Barton’s misdirections are beautifully timed, and McCloskey’s digitally enhanced pencil-and-watercolor drawings are bright and exuberant. And yes, fire is finally breathed and water is spurted: that’s how these two multifaceted pals say goodbye. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Erica Rand Silverman, Stimola Literary Studio. (Mar.) [/em]