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Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books) Paperback – August 4, 2005


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Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books) + The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Series: Picture Puffin Books
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin (August 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142403628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142403624
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

reSchool-Grade 3-Kalman's hip, high-energy paintings portray American life in 1931: the Empire State Building is constructed, Babe Ruth hits his 611th home run, "Snickers" is invented, and the John J. Harvey is launched to fight fires on New York piers. In its heyday, the boat is the creme de la creme, but toward the end of the century as the piers start to close, it is forced into retirement, soon to become scrap. Amazingly, a group of friends decides to tackle a restoration, and the John J. Harvey is called upon to fight its worst blaze ever. The fireboat's role on September 11 calls for a shift in the book's mood and style. The transition is signaled with a quiet page of white text on gray-no art. The spread of the expressionistic explosion is followed by portraits of community helpers. The climax is depicted on a black background with the firefighters, appearing as blue, kinetic outlines, furiously battling the blazing orange, red, and yellow flames with long lines of white spray. Fireboat does many things. It sets forth an adventure, helps commemorate an anniversary, offers an interesting bit of history, celebrates the underdog, and honors the fire-fighting profession. Children and adults will respond to it in as many ways.
Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Maira Kalman is an illustrator, author, and designer. She has created many covers for The New Yorker, including the famous map of Newyorkistan (created with Rick Meyerowitz). Ms. Kalman's twelve children's books include Max Makes a Million, Stay Up Late, Swami on Rye, and What Pete Ate. She also has designed fabric for Isaac Mizrahi, accessories for Kate Spade, sets for the Mark Morris Dance Company, and, with her late husband Tibor Kalman under the M&Co. label, clocks, umbrellas, and other accessories for the Museum of Modern Art. Ms. Kalman's work is shown at the Julie Saul Gallery in Manhattan.

Customer Reviews

I was living in Japan the first time I read this book.
Anne
The illustrations that accompany the text are quite colorful and playful, adding to the story the book tells.
tvtv3
This book is highly recommended for all to read, especially for young children.
Jill

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By chris on January 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been an educator for 30 years, and mother for 12. I have a doctoral degree in special education. I was so touched by this book that I have donated copies to libraries, in addition to buying them for friends with and without young children.

As a native New Yorker now living in another state, I struggled daily to explain 9/11 to my students and my own children. Not until I saw "Fireboat" did I have a children's book to help my explanations. None of us can ignore what happened in 2001. I have seen parents and teachers try, and their children became more confused and scared by the secrecy than they would have been by an open discussion of the events.

I applaud the sensitive story, the beautiful artwork, and the idea that, out of the terror and horror of 9/11, we can find positive acts and hope.

I recommend this book to parents everywhere.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By E. O'Brien on July 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I guess I'm somewhat taken aback by some of the reviewers who apparently read the book to their children, or got partway through it, without having looked it over themselves first. Sorry, that's just irresponsible. The book is a fabulous treatment of a terrible subject that your children ARE aware of, and this helps explain how ordinary people became heroes that awful day.
My 6-year old first fell in love with this book when he was 4, and he knows enough about 9/11 to know it was a horrible event. His dad (me) was next door to the WTC that morning, so he and his brother lived through waiting to hear from me with his mom.
The book is sensitive and touching. It's a great book and I highly recommend it. If you think your child might have a problem with ANY book, you should always read it yourself first.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Heidi on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
My 6 year old son brought this home from his school library yesterday. I was eager to sit and read a book about a fireboat to my first grader!
I was so shocked by the abruptness of the content switching from almost a sing-songy storyline, to airplanes crashing in to the towers. My son said they were bombs and smiled at the big explosion on the following pages. My eyes teared up as I remembered being pregnant with him while frantically driving home afraid that the Boston skyline behind me was about to be assaulted and changed forever.
Back on the couch in our living room, I realized that a discussion about 9/11 was going to have to take place before my first grader understands this tragedy and this book. I put the book away, and will return it to his school's library. I have chosen to let my 6 year old be a first grader, to live in a world that is at peace. For now.
He will soon enough learn that there are evil individuals in the world who could strike down innocent people by the thousands. Soon, enough. But not at 6 years old.
This book is an important book, particularly for children who experienced a direct impact from those terrifying days.
Note to publisher: Please republish with a tag line referring to 9/11 on the cover.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Connare on October 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Fireboat. By Maira Kalman. 2002. 38 pages. $ 16.99
Maira has done it again. She has written an extraordinary book about New York. Fireboat is a book about the tragedy of 9/11. The book focuses more on the Heroes than the tragedy. This book will be a good tool for teachers and parents to use to help explain the event. Fireboat is about a fireboat named Harvey. She starts with the history of the boat back in 1931. She also tells about other events that happened in 1931, "Snickers hit the stores... the word HOT-CHA was invented." Then it moves forward to 1995. Harvey was going to be scrapped, but a group of friends save the boat and restore it. Then there is a gray page that moves to 9/11. The book then illustrates two planes flying toward the twin towers. She then has a vivid illustration of the towers exploding. Maira then does a great job with describing the heroes and the crew of Harvey and then how Harvey had a great part in putting out the fires in New York after the attacks. The book then goes on to tell that Harvey was a hero and that heroes are "not forgotten". This book has great description, vivid and bold illustrations and great context. She does a great job writing a book that is so difficult to talk about. This book can be used with children to grade 4. However, with younger children a parent or teacher should be there to help explain the context since the illustrations are so vivid.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amy Senk VINE VOICE on April 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a book about heroes, an interesting tale that takes an obscure little boat and makes it the centerpiece for a story of the September 11 attacks.

My son was just 3 in September 2001, and he saw our tears and knew we were frightened. When we reached the section of this book where the planes hit the buildings, he turned to me and said, "So THAT'S what happened." He was relieved to have the upsetting topic finally explained. Even years later, he has trouble understanding the heroes who died; many of the nuances and realities of that time simply elude him. Fireboat helped me broach the subject in a way that he seemed OK with.

Like other reviewers, I'm surprised at those who felt blindsided mid-read to their children. I can't understand not taking a second to flip through a book before reading any book to a child. To blame the book for a parental oversight seems very unfair. And also, avoiding the 9-11 topic with small children seems like whistling past the graveyard. Better to read a book like this, with some historical perspective and optimism, then to have a child like mine who felt in the dark and frightened of the unknown.

This is a cheery, well-written book about a terrible topic. The author walks a fine line between being too glib and too severe, but in the end, it's a successful effort.
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