The Firefighters, by Sue Whiting

Briiiiiing! Briiiiiing!
The alarm screams
‘Quick!’ I say. ‘Coats and boots!’
‘Hats, too,’ says Mia…
We’re being firefighters – just like the REAL ones.

Jack, Mia and their kindergarten friends – and even their teacher, Mrs Iverson – are playing at being firefighters. With a cardboard box as a fire engine they race off to put out the fire. It’s fun being a pretend firefighter. Later, though, Mrs Iverson has a surprise for them – a visit from a real fire engine. The children learn about fire safety at the same time as enjoying the excitement of exploring a real fire engine and meeting real firefighters.

This gorgeous picture book offering serves the dual functions of teaching about fire safety and the role of firefighters, and highlighting the fun of imaginative play. It would be a great classroom tool for fire safety lessons, but is equally just a fun read for home or school.

The illustrations, by award winning illustrator Donna Rawlins are in bold acrylics with plenty of red and yellow, matching the bright red endpapers.

Sue Whiting is an exciting writer, creating stories which kids want to read, and which adults enjoy sharing.

An excellent offering.

The Firefighters, by Sue Whiting and Donna Rawlins
Walker Books, 2008

My Dearest Dinosaur, by Margaret Wild and Donna Rawlins

My dearest Dinosaur,
Such news! The egss have hatched and we have seven little ones.
I wish you could see the wriggly, tiggly rascals. But where are you?
We are here. Here!

As a mother dinosaur begins the journey into new motherhood, she must also cope with the absence of her mate, who has disappeared whilst off looking for a safer place to live. As she raises her youngsters, she keeps her partner informed of their progress and shares her longing for his return.

Whilst the text is written as if a diary or letters to the absent father, the illustrations, by the talented Donna Rawlins, show mother and babies that are not anthropomorphised, allowing the reader to know that there is no letter or diary. Instead, Wild is giving us an interpretation of the dinosaur’s emotions, allowing readers to connect in a way that would be unlikely with a non-fiction explanation or a thrid-person telling of the tale.

Through both word and illustration, young readers are offered an insight into the daily life of the dinosaurs and of the terrain of the times, with forests, rivers, swamps and plains all depicted. The topic of extinction is also touched on, with the dinosaur mother dreaming of the start of the ice age.

This is not a cheery bedtime tale – the dinosaur babies grow up and leave the mother alone, still searching for her mate – but it is not overly maudlin either. It is most likely to appeal to young dinosaur fans in the early school years and would be a useful classroom resource, both for the dinosaur theme and as an example of a story through letters.

First published in 1992, My Dearest Dinosaur has been rereleased in paperback format.

My Dearest Dinosaur, by Margaret Wild and Donna Rawlins
Scholastic, first published 1992, this version 2005