Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

by Maira Kalman (Author) Maira Kalman (Illustrator)

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
The inspiring true story of the "John J. Harvey"--the retired NYC fireboat that was reinstated into emergency service on September 11, 2001--is told, bringing a New York City icon to life and celebrating the energy and hope of a place and its people. Full-color illustrations. (Available now)
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$8.99

Horn Book Magazine

Quintessential New York artist Kalman gives us an idiosyncratic but informative look at a Big Apple institution. . . . Kalman's use of the events of September 11 is honest and honorable, and rarely is she as straightforward as she is here.

Booklist

Kalman does some extraordinary things in this beautiful picture book. She takes the fireboat's history and puts it within the context of a city that has endured, framing the enormity of 9/11 so young readers, and even small children, can begin to grasp what happened. At the same time, she makes the event part of life's continuum of loss and endurance. Her artistry is as compassionate as it is brilliant. Wonderful, sweeping images of New York icons bring the city to life; detailed images of the Harvey do the same for the boat. . . . It is vivid, but the stark, sensitive rendering is also somehow easier to absorb than the horrible photographs burned into our hearts. By focusing on the boat and the people who worked on it, loved it, and placed it at the service of their city, Kalman casts a blessing far and wide. . . . A hundred years from now, when people want to know what we told our children about 9/11, Kalman's book should be among the first answers.

Copyright 2002 Booklist, LLC Used with permission

Publishers Weekly

In relating the heroic role of the John J. Harvey on September 11, Kalman (Next Stop Grand Central) intelligently conveys those unfathomable events in a way that a picture book audience can comprehend. She begins with the year 1931, which saw some of New York City's finest hours: "Amazing things were happening big and small./ The Empire State Building went up up up." She continues with the completion of the George Washington Bridge, then zeroes in on the launching of the John J. Harvey, "the largest, fastest and shiniest fireboat of them all." Spot illustrations show its equipment and introduce the crew (including "a dog named Smokey, who did not put out the fires but had many nice spots"), while views of the New York harbor stretch across a spread. She then fast-forwards to 1995: "New York was changing. The Twin Towers were now the tallest buildings in New York City." But the piers are also closing, so the fireboat rests in retirement. One night, a group of friends decide over dinner to restore the John J. Harvey to its original glory. Next, the volume takes an abrupt turn. White type on a black page announces: "But then on September 11, 2001 something so huge and horrible happened that the whole world shook." A sequence of spreads shows the towers literally exploding in dark, angry brushstrokes of black and gray and orange, followed by the many heroes who "sprang into action," including the John J. Harvey. With this inspiring book, Kalman (Next Stop Grand Central) sensitively handles a difficult subject in an age-appropriate manner. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)

Copyright 2002 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 3 - Kalman's hip, high-energy paintings portray American life in 1931: the Empire State Building is constructed, Babe Ruth hits his 611th home run, "Snickers" is invented, and the John J. Harvey is launched to fight fires on New York piers. In its heyday, the boat is the creme de la creme, but toward the end of the century as the piers start to close, it is forced into retirement, soon to become scrap. Amazingly, a group of friends decides to tackle a restoration, and the John J. Harvey is called upon to fight its worst blaze ever. The fireboat's role on September 11 calls for a shift in the book's mood and style. The transition is signaled with a quiet page of white text on gray-no art. The spread of the expressionistic explosion is followed by portraits of community helpers. The climax is depicted on a black background with the firefighters, appearing as blue, kinetic outlines, furiously battling the blazing orange, red, and yellow flames with long lines of white spray. Fireboat does many things. It sets forth an adventure, helps commemorate an anniversary, offers an interesting bit of history, celebrates the underdog, and honors the fire-fighting profession. Children and adults will respond to it in as many ways. - Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

Copyright 2002 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission

Review quotes

*Among the many literary tributes to 9-11 heroism, Kalman's is particularly exciting, uplifting, and child-sensitive. . . . Revisits the tragedy without the terror and conveys pride without preachiness. — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
Maira Kalman
In her own words: "born. bucolic childhood. culture-stuffed adolescence. played piano. stopped. danced. stopped. wrote. discarded writing. drew. reinstated writing. married Tibor Kalman and collaborated at iconoclastic yet successful design studio. wrote and painted children's books. worried. took up Ping-Pong. relaxed. wrote and painted for many magazines. cofounded the Rubber Band Society. amused. children: two. dog: one."
In her own words: "born. bucolic childhood. culture-stuffed adolescence. played piano. stopped. danced. stopped. wrote. discarded writing. drew. reinstated writing. married Tibor Kalman and collaborated at iconoclastic yet successful design studio. wrote and painted children's books. worried. took up Ping-Pong. relaxed. wrote and painted for many magazines. cofounded the Rubber Band Society. amused. children: two. dog: one."
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9780399239533
Lexile Measure
600
Guided Reading Level
-
Publisher
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication date
August 05, 2002
Series
-
BISAC categories
JNF057020 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Transportation | Boats, Ships & Underwater Craft
JNF025250 - Juvenile Nonfiction | History | United States/21st Century
Library of Congress categories
World Trade Center (New York, N.Y.)
Boats and boating
John J. Harvey (Fireboat)
September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
Fire extinction
Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards
Winner 2003 - 2003
Parents Choice Award (Fall) (1998-2007)
Winner 2002 - 2002
Georgia Children's Book Award
Nominee 2004 - 2004
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award
Nominee 2004 - 2004
Red Clover Award
Nominee 2004 - 2004
South Carolina Childrens, Junior and Young Adult Book Award
Nominee 2005 - 2006
Volunteer State Book Awards
Nominee 2005 - 2006
Buckaroo Book Award
Nominee 2004 - 2005
Monarch Award
Nominee 2008 - 2008

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