- Age Range: 5 - 8 years
- Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
- Lexile Measure: 950L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (May 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780689839221
- ISBN-13: 978-0689839221
- ASIN: 0689839227
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.3 x 12 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #825,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Magnus at the Fire Hardcover – May 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4–In this stirring historical story, a heroic and determined horse refuses to be put out to pasture after his firefighting days come to an end. Magnus, a mighty gray stallion, and his companions have been trained to pull the heavy steam pumper to fires. One day, the captain returns to the station with a motorized fire engine, and Magnus is put in a nearby field. At the sound of the alarm, he is over the fence and following the truck down the street. The captain considers him a dangerous nuisance until the new engine breaks down and Magnus has the chance to fight one more blaze. Afterward, a retired fireman takes the hero to his farm where he becomes a beloved companion to the man's grandchildren. Impressive oil paintings in vibrant colors capture the drama of firefighting in the 1800s. The horses, particularly Magnus, are striking, especially in their resemblance to the powerful war horses of Renaissance art. Tension is etched on the faces of the men as they hasten to a burning building, but there are also moments of empathy between them and the animals. The exciting spreads will pull readers into the action. This is a fine tribute to the four-legged "smoke eaters" that bravely served their communities.– Carol Schene, Taunton Public Schools, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr. 2. Strong, gray Magnus has been a fire horse his whole life; he pulls the giant steam pumper to each site, knows how to "handle himself around calamity and chaos," and understands that he must stand "rock steady" while the firemen work. Then the captain brings in a motorized fire engine. Magnus and his team are put out to pasture, but when the fire bell rings, Magnus can't keep from leaping the fence and racing to the scene to help. The firemen scoff at the old-timer--until the fire engine breaks down en route to a blaze, and Magnus is called into duty and celebrated as a hero. Armstrong's pacing lags a bit, but her vivid, colloquial language (the new engine is a "burping, belching, oil-smelling newfangled contraption") will capture children's attention, as will the lustrous oil illustrations, reminiscent of WPA paintings of laborers that show magnificent horses in action. An author's note gives more information about fire horses in American history. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Historical notes about the adoption of steam vehicles are included. Also published as a sound recording.
When the first motorized fire engine comes on the scene the horses suddenly find themselves out of a job and out to pasture! Magnus cannot get fire fighting out of his blood and so continues to respond to the call. Yes, he jumps the fence! This causes some problems but one day he is actually a big help.
During this time Magnus and a retired captain, Captain Fancher become good friends and this story has a really delightful ending.
What a great way to incorporate some actual historical facts! (At the end of the book there is a note to the reader with more factual information.) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
At the Broadway Firehouse in Hope Springs, three big gray horses were needed whenever a fire broke out. Strapped to the heavy steam pumper when the fire bell would clang, Magnus, Billy, and Sparks knew how to pull the equipment to the source of any and all fires. All that changes the day the firehouse buys itself a newfangled motorized fire engine. Suddenly the horses are put out to pasture behind the firehouse. This is all well and good, but they have a hard time hearing the fire bell and not attending to the fire themselves. Magnus becomes so disturbed at being left behind that he constantly leaps over the fence, sometimes busting through it when the firemen try to pen him in. This seems like a huge nuisance until the day the new fire engine breaks down and Magnus is needed to pull it to the flames. After that, it becomes clear that while Magnus was necessary one last time, he isn't any longer. He's taken to the country to live with the old Captain and his grandkids and the only bell he hears is the dinner bell. "And pretty soon Magnus learned that the sound of the bell meant one last hug from all the kids before they ran inside, where the fire in the stove was nice and warm".
Much of what determines how good a picture book is comes in what an author and an illustrator DON'T do. For example, Armstrong knows that her story stands strong on its own two legs. She doesn't need to add fantastical (some might say sickly) elements like Magnus and the other horses talking amongst themselves or with the firemen. Similarly, artist Owen Smith gives us beautiful and realistic paintings for each scene. And there isn't a moment in this book of a child trapped in a firey building only to be saved by a heroic horse. Armstrong isn't going for the easy emotions or the cheap sentiments. "Magnus and the Fire" is a class act through and through. It is not, I should point out, based on an actual story. The author includes A Note to the Reader at the back of the book explaining the history of the firehorse, saying that no particular animal was the basis for Magnus himself.
The illustrations by Owen Smith take this already well-written story and elevate it to a kind of picture book classic status. Though the bookflap says that he is most influenced by muralist Diego Rivera, the figures in this book look to me more like modified Thomas Hart Bentons to me. The book's endpapers show sepia-toned images of Magnus from the story. 1930s picture books, for lack of money, used similar colors and the choice to make the endpapers look this way is nothing short of inspired. As for the paintings, they fairly swell with color. The only one I objected to was the last image of Magnus. As he stands majestically under an autumn tree, Smith has painted an oddly unconvincing child reminiscent of those 1960s big-eyed children on velvet. It is the sole flaw in an otherwise enticing title. For the kid obsessed with firemen (a common obsession) this is a go-to book.
The book is rather similar to those other tales in which someone is replaced by a technological advance. "John Henry" comes to mind, though the ending of "Magnus and the Fire" is a lot happier than John's, I should think. For one thing, I half-expected Magnus to fall over dead after pulling the heavy engine at the end. He doesn't (he wouldn't anyway) and the ending is a satisfactory one. I hesitate to use the words, "future classic" when referring to children's books, but "Magnus and the Fire" deserves it. A beautiful book that will be much loved by anyone you give it to.
BY Jennifer Armstrong
Magnus at the Fire is a good book for young
readers . It shows how horses helped people do there jobs like helping policemen and fighterfighters . They helped fighter fighters by getting them to the fire on time . If you like horses you should read this book