Review Blog

Jun 23 2017

Is this an emergency? Ambulance. The adventures of Toby the Teddy by Catherine Buckley and Amelia Harrison

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Ill. by Emma Stuart. Amelia Harrison, 2016. ISBN 9780646952901
(Ages: 4-6) Medical emergencies, ambulances. An Australian primary school teacher and an illustrator with experience in emergency medical services have created this book to fill a specific educational resource gap. They particularly wanted to address the high number of prank and hoax calls that young children make to emergency services. It is aimed at preschool and school age children but because of its cutesy, somewhat babyish illustrations and tone it has a limited audience (despite it being a topic that pertains to much older children as well). I can't help but think that most prank calls come from children slightly older than this book will appeal to. The book follows Teddy (a teddy bear) as he faces problems and shows how he deals with them, each time asking the reader 'Is this an emergency?' and then explaining what Teddy should do next. It uses examples that will be familiar to children in the target audience and that are the most likely and critical medical emergencies they may encounter in the schoolyard or at home (asthma, anaphylaxis). The examples illustrate that different actions are appropriate in different emergencies and familiar adults and teachers are put forward as examples of people who can help rather than it always being necessary to call an ambulance. Importantly though, it is stressed that if no other adult is close by an ambulance should be called. This will stimulate important conversations about whether children know their home address and how to phone an ambulance in an emergency. There are notes in the back for teachers and parents, including discussion points and activity ideas. The book is written in a non-frightening way and the language used is clear and appropriate for young children. It gives children a language to talk about medical emergencies (allergic reaction, rash, can't catch his breath, etc.) and Teddy is a perfect clear-thinking role model. Despite the whole thing feeling a bit old fashioned (even the telephone depicted is an old wall-mounted landline . . . with a cord!) it does fill a resource gap and would be a useful resource for teachers and parents of preschool and primary aged children, especially in classrooms or families where there are children with medical conditions.
Nicole Nelson

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