CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 18 . . . .May 13, 2005
Originally published as Canadian Firefighters (Kids Can Press, 1991) and Canadian Postal Workers (Kids Can Press, 1992), these books have been revised and adapted for the "Kids Can Read" series. Both titles are categorized as "Level 3: Kids Can Read Alone" which features longer, more complex stories for children who are reading by themselves.
Firefighters presents information on how fires are brought under control both in urban and rural settings. The skills needed to be a firefighter are also explained. Eight fire prevention rules are included at the end of the book. Safety tips such as "Have home fire drills" and "Learn the number for the fire department" encourage family discussion.
In Postal Workers, a young boy named Gordon sends a birthday card to his grandmother. Readers find out what happens to a letter once it is placed in a mailbox. The route from sorting machine, to postal station, to letter carrier bag is traced. The story ends with Gordon's checking his community mailbox for a card with his name.
Compared to the original picture book versions, several changes have been made. In the earlier Firefighters edition, the superintendent called the fire department from inside his apartment. This was clearly stated in the text and depicted in the illustrations. However, this contradicted a safety rule: "Remember that no one should ever call from inside a burning building." The error is corrected in this revised version. In the earlier Postal Workers edition, Gordon's grandmother lived in British Columbia. In the revised version, she resides in Oregon. With the "Kids Can Read" series published both in Canada and the United States, some country specific passages have been deleted, such as the explanation of Canadian postal codes. In the acknowledgment page for Firefighters, Canadian and American fire departments were consulted and served as reviewers and fact checkers.
In both books, the text is presented in a large typeface and on a white background, making it easy to read. Challenging words in the original editions, such as "smoulders," "screeched," "parachuted," have been removed. Phrases have also been simplified: "Letter-processing centre" is changed to "place where mail is sorted;" "spring the lock open" is changed to "open the lock."
Kim LaFave's detailed cartoon illustrations have been magnified. These large pictures give beginning readers clues to the text.
Community workers are a high-interest, popular topic for young students, making this easy reader series a great addition to public and school libraries.
Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.
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