CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 1999
Then the dragon's nose twitched, and he started to wheeze. His eyes misted up, and he blew a great sneeze.Written with the assistance of Brian Berringer, Captain of the Thunder Bay Fire Department, No Dragons for Tea is an excellent introduction to home fire safety for pre and early readers. Telling the story via rhyming couplets, Pendziwol has her central character, a little girl, literally run into a dragon whom she then befriends and invites home for tea over the initial objections of her mother. The social event is proceeding quite nicely until the dragon has to sneeze, a happening which causes him to spew forth fire and accidentally set the house ablaze. While the little girl has been taught the appropriate steps to take in case of fire, the panicky dragon does all the wrong things, including hiding and attempting to reenter the house to retrieve his teddy bear. After the fire department arrives and extinguishes the fire, the two friends, now both safe, get to sit in the fire truck.
While Gourbault's illustrations and Pendziwol's text are both lighthearted, there is no missing the serious intent behind the story. Lest some young listeners/readers have not gleaned the safety lessons from the story, Pendziwol provides a summary via "The Dragon's Fire-Safety Rhyme." Consisting of five rhyming couplets, the poem, which is found at the book's conclusion, provides five basic but important tips related to an individual's behavior should a home fire occur. Additionally, Pendziwol adds an 11 point checklist "to discuss and to put into action together," with the "together" meaning parent and child.
A fine non-didactic and "non-frightening" book to use in teaching fire safety to young children.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
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