Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. Dormer (9781481460903, Amazon)
Get ready for some brave ducks in this picture book! The firefighter duckies are called into all sorts of emergencies and have to find the solution for them all. They are brave and strong. They rescue a gorilla in a chef hat who has started a fire with his cupcake candle. They rescue whales caught in hungry, angry trees. They help dinosaurs on bicycles and stop rampaging centipedes. They even straighten out the alphabet and aid hairy monsters. It takes strength, bravery, hair cuts, kindness and being helpful. And it also takes a lot of rest afterwards!
Dormer taps into a stream of extreme weirdness in this picture book, demanding that readers just go along with it. The wild ride is definitely worth it and the result is a very fast-paced book that is hilarious. The simple but silly text works perfectly with the equally silly illustrations. Make sure not to get too caught in the speed of the book to notice the details. Just the looks on the ducks’ faces is a hoot as are the circumstances they need to figure out.
A book sure to “quack” you up, this is the perfect book to rescue a toddler story time. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Based on a true story, this book follows the walk of a mother duck and her small ducklings. They follow her out of the pond, through the grass of the park, and into town. They ate a bite from the overflowing garbage can and then headed off the curb and over a storm drain. But while Mama Duck made it over the grate with no problems, her ducklings fell through one by one. It could have been a sad ending to the story, but it wasn’t! The people who saw it happened called for help. It took firemen and someone with a winch on their truck to save all of the ducklings.
Moore has created a story that has a real appeal. It is the story of tiny ducklings that at first seems very sweet, then takes a very dangerous turn. Throughout, she tells the readers that that could have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t. Using this device, she creates both drama and also the assurance that thing will be alright in the end. Her writing has repetition that makes it perfect for very young children. The environmental message is subtle but profound.
Carpenter’s ducks seem to be drawn with a nod to McCloskey’s Make Way for Ducklings. The book feels vintage with the small town coming together to save this small family of ducks. Carpenter celebrates both the natural setting and also the people themselves. Her use of separated images that form one larger image to name the little ducklings works particularly well.
Ideal for a duckling story time and perfect for spring, read this one alongside Make Way for Ducklings. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Orchard Books.
Heroes of the Surf by Elisa Carbone, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
In the nineteenth century, the Pliny is on its way from South America to New York City. Aboard the ship are many families, including two young friends Anthony and Pedro, who spend the journey pretending to be pirates. The boys are having a grand time together until one night when a storm hits. Even the lifeboats are of no use, as they are smashed by the growing waves. The night goes silent when the engines stop working, leaving them at the mercy of the storm. Then the captain sends up a distress beacon. Soon there are people on the shore and a cannon is aimed in their direction. Could it be pirates after all? Instead of a cannonball, a rescue line and buoy are shot onto the ship. It takes a harrowing zip line to safety until all of the crew and passengers are safe and warm at the Long Branch Life Saving Station, a precursor to the Coast Guard.
Carbone writes with a lot of detail here, exploring this story based on the real disaster of this ship. Told through the point of view of Anthony, the story stays riveting and thrilling right through to the end. From the drama of the storm itself to the striking rescue efforts, this book is filled with tension and adventure. Carbone also carefully builds the world of the 19th century, making sure that readers know where they are in history and how brave the efforts of the rescuers are.
Carpenter completes the historical tone of the book with her own detailed images of the 19th century. From the clothing to the mannerisms, this book clearly reveals the time and place of its setting. Carpenter does not shy away from the drama, instead leaning into it with her wild expanses of stormy water, the drama of almost slipping off the deck, and the wonder of the rescue.
A powerful mix of history and adventure, this fictional book will be popular with pirate and nonfiction readers. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Viking.