Firefighter Flo! (Andrea Zimmerman)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Firefighter Flo!, written by Andrea Zimmerman and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, a simple yet exciting tale of firefighters at work. By

Firefighter Flo and the rest of her station house are fast asleep in their bunks when the call comes in – a fire! The team quickly slides down the pole and suits up in turnouts, racing to the scene and manning the hoses to put out the blaze. Suddenly, Flo hears something: the yelp of a dog still stuck in the fire! Acting with haste and courage, Flo breaks through a door and braves the flames, rescuing the pup and reuniting it with its family. A job well done, the firefighters return to the station and tuck in for a good night’s sleep.

Stylish and fun. While the story may seem fairly boilerplate, Zimmerman brings pop and punch to the writing with onomatopoeia and rhythmic meter, making this a joy to read aloud to young bookworms. The excitement of the fire is palpable, added to greatly by Yaccarino’s sleek colorblock art; the geometric polkadot pattern used to for the firehouse’s dalmatian is a great touch, for instance. Best of all, amongst the uncomplicated visuals and storytelling, the creators do something special by centering the story around a woman of color and her very diverse (physically, racially, gender expression, etc) crew. Firefighter books are largely based around white male characters, even when they are ensemble pieces, so this is a great example of a simple story elevated by inclusion and representation. The length is perfect for a quick storytime, and JJ loved the sound effects. Overall, we love it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Just Bunny and the Great Fire Rescue (Jeanne LaSala Taylor)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Just Bunny and the Great Fire Rescue, written by Jeanne LaSala Taylor and illustrated by Ana Sebastian, a sweet tale of a girl and her very special bunny.

New Yorker Francesca’s best friend in the world is her stuffed gray rabbit named Just Bunny. After a day of play at the park with her mom and little sister (and Just Bunny, naturally), Francesca and her family stop at a restaurant for dinner. But shortly after their chips arrive, the waiter appears to usher everyone out of the restaurant – there’s a fire in the kitchen! Safely out on the street, the family moves to another restaurant, but Francesca quickly realizes that someone was left behind: Just Bunny! Rushing back to the scene of the fire, Francesca and her mother implore a kindly firefighter to look inside for the plushie, explaining that he’s not simply a toy, but Francesca’s best friend. The firefighter understands, and braves his way inside to search… but is it too late?

Very sweet. While the rhyming text often loses meter and can be a little clunky when read aloud, the slice-of-life plot if simple and relatable, especially for any family who is familiar with the importance of a little one’s special toy. Indeed, the moment in which the firefighter asks if Francesca needs Just Bunny to sleep absolutely rung true to me, and was a heartwarming and realistic moment of a one parent understanding another family’s needs based on personal experience. The way this also celebrated the work and compassion of firefighters was a wonderful and unexpected theme. The art is colorful and lively, and the length is fine. One complaint, however, is the inclusion of a tertiary character named DJ Big Apple, a bunny identical to Just Bunny with the exception of sunglasses and a watch who, after an introductory page, appears in the background of each two-page spread, up until one scene where he… IS Just Bunny? Even though they both appeared in previous scenes? It’s unclear and feels like an unnecessary addition to an otherwise well-rounded story. Still, JJ enjoyed the tale of Just Bunny, and we can recommend this one. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)