Hugo the Flying Firefighter, by Lorette Broekstra

The first in a series, Hugo the Flying Firefighter is a delightfully entertaining story made more enjoyable by the bright, colourful illustrations.

Hugo sets out in his plane for a journey over Hometown only to discover a fire at the Pigdons’ house. Unable to get the attention of local residents Hugo uses the planes smoke switch to write a message in the sky, raising the alarm for the local firefighters and saving the Pigdons’ house.

The author has used few words to take Hugo on his journey across the skies of Hometown. This makes the story easy for younger children to follow. Repetition of expressions and names allows children to anticipate what happens next. The use of different sized text places emphasis on the more exciting moments in the story.

The illustrations are delightful, simply and accurately portraying what is in the text. The beautifully bright pictures portray a wonderful perspective from the aeroplane. The illustrations are not complex and invite discussion about what is happening in them. This highlights an educational benefit of the story, especially for pre-school aged children who can use it as a discussion point to talk about fire safety. There is also the opportunity for colour and object recognition for small children and number recognition for pre-schoolers.

This is an enjoyable story that will delight children up to about 5 years.

Hugo the Flying Firefighter, Broekstra, Lorette (illus and text)
Allen and Unwin, 2004, $24.95, ISBN 1741143349