CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 28. . . .March 26, 2010
Andrea Beck’s latest Elliot Moose story, Elliot’s Fire Truck, sees the character of Elliot adopting the role of a firefighter atop his bright red, toy fire truck. The problem Elliot faces is that all of his friends want to be firefighters while no one is willing to play the role of a victim in need of rescue. As the story unfolds, Elliot attempts to convince Socks, Paisley and Amy of their need to be rescued. Eventually, Elliot and his friends insist that Snowy and Puff are too small to be firefighters and, as such, must play the roles of victims. A valuable lesson is learned when the fire crew finds itself in need of rescue.
Elliot’s Fire Truck is the latest instalment in Beck’s “Elliot Moose” series of books. As the books have also been adapted into a TV series, many young children will recognize the characters of Elliot and his friends.
Beck’s story is a feel-good tale with a happy ending. The author highlights and promotes the idea of imaginative play, a concept which will appeal to the parents of the book’s young readers. The book is infused with descriptive vocabulary that adds interest and detail to the relatively predictable story. Although Beck promotes the ideals of sharing, friendship, and playing together, her text is not distractingly didactic. Rather, she tells a sweet tale with an important message of inclusion and fair play.
In addition to the text, Beck also provided the coloured pencil illustrations for this book. The full colour artwork features the skillful use of perspective and varied points of view to add interest to the illustrations. Combining a soft colour palette with strategic use of rounded shapes, Beck manages to convey the texture of soft and cuddly stuffed animals. The pictures primarily consist of muted colours, but Beck employs bold splashes of red to add visual interest to the book. Her use of red also subtly reinforces the fire fighting theme of the book. Beck’s characters are depicted in a manner that portrays their wide-eyed innocence.
Although the plotline of the story is rather simplistic and predictable, there is enough to like about Beck’s word choices and her illustrative prowess that this book is likely to appeal to young children. In reading this story to a group of grade 2 students, the book’s content failed to hold their attention. Orca promotes the book as suitable for children to age 8; however, we feel the book is best limited to children up to the age of 5.
Leanne Ryrie is a graduate student currently teaching grade 2 students. Gregory Bryan teaches literacy education classes in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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