Fire Engine is Flashing by Mandy Archer

cover image

Ill. by Martha Lightfoot. Busy Wheels series. Scholastic ISBN: 9781742835105.
(Ages: 3-6) This is a simple story of what happens at the fire station before the alarm starts ringing right up until the point where the fire engine and crew drive back to the station. The fire engine is personified ('Fire Engine' rather than the fire engine) and the story is lightened by containing cartoon foxes rather than people. Told in a simple yet engaging fashion with an interesting story Fire Engine is Flashing is great at introducing some of the technical language and concepts of fire fighting in a fun way. These terms are in highlighted print and the illustrations help the reader to understand these new terms through clear, bold pictures. The text uses proper terms that may be unfamiliar to young children but which are used regularly in the everyday vernacular and will quickly become meaningful in the context of their lives. They also provide opportunities for rich discussions around synonyms with the inclusions of words such as 'wail', for labelling things around them such as 'hydrant' and for discussing the specific equipment used by fire fighters such as 'air-tank'.
The story engages the reader by telling the story in a fast paced way without detailed description or explanation. It also contains lots of sounds that young children will love to mimic and strives to involve the reader and get them to feel the emotion and harried pace of the adventure by directing text at them such as 'Fire Engine is ready to go! Hurry, hurry!' and 'There's not a second to lose!'. The last few pages of the book contain a labelled diagram of Fire Engine complete with terms such as 'breathing apparatus' and labelled pictures of other emergency vehicles. While the illustration of the fire engine is fairly similar to an Australian fire engine the other vehicles are dissimilar. Overall a pleasant book that will delight young children, especially the myriad who love machines and emergency vehicles.
Nicole Smith-Forrest