Heroic City: Fireboat, The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books)You've probably heard about this book in the run-up to 9/11's anniversary, but as I wrote it a while ago, I might as well publish it.

As we near the 10th anniversary of 9/11 you may be wondering if there are any picture books you might read to your children about the events of that day. Of course the first step is to determine if your children are mature and ready to discuss the full story. If they are, Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey is a good place to start.

Maira Kalman has made the wise choice of choosing a way to approach the events of 9/11 that will interest many children: a fireboat. The story actually begins in 1931, when "amazing things were happening big and small" in NYC. Big things, like the Empire State Building's construction and small things like the sale of the first Snickers bar. It was also the year the John J. Harvey Fireboat was launched. Kalman then takes us through the boat's hey dey, its retirement and and refurbishment. But then, on 9/11 the little boat proved to be a unique hero, and, like the events on 9/11, will never be forgotten.

Kalman's illustrations serve the story well, but parents and teachers should preview the book as the illustrations of 9/11 events are powerful.

All in all, this book would be good choice to accompany discussions with your children about 9/11. However, that said, it might be too powerful for some children, and it should not be the first introduction to the events, as the abrupt change of events in the book and the illustrations of the towers on fire can be jarring.

Want More?
Take a look at these other picture books about the twin towers: The Little Chapel That Stood, (I was not able to get this book in time to review it for this blog, but the reviews on Amazon are good)  The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (a pre-9/11 story and an excellent choice for those not yet ready for Fireboat)
Visit the author's website. She was even on the Colbert Report.
Learn more about the John J. Harvey.

Big Kid says: I didn't like the part with the airplanes. [Even though I hid this book from my son while I was debating if I should read it to him, he found it and read it on his own. So much for parental preview.]


Brimful Curiosities said...

I'm putting this one on our list for the future. Decided that perhaps 9/11 is a little too complicated to discuss with my kids just yet.

Raising a Happy Child said...

I was struggling to decide whether or not to discuss September 11 with Anna yet and decided not to. It's just way too fresh for myself even though 10 years passed since. Watching the second plane hit on live TV and then watching the towers fall still gives me shivers.

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