Clearly The Little Dump Truck (2009) and The Little School Bus (2014) were just the prelude to Cuyler and Kolar’s most ambitious project yet.
“Perky” would not be a poor way of describing the little fire truck that shuttles its white driver, Jill, and her racially diverse fire crew all over town. Each rhyming stanza, one per spread, begins with the line “I’m a little fire truck” then proceeds in a standard abcb rhyme scheme. After rescuing a cat, the firefighters must contend with a burning building. Happily it just takes a couple “splish-splosh” squirts of the fire hose to put everything right. Aimed at toddlers and younger preschoolers, the art proves to be just as simple as the text. The digital illustrations keep the color bright, the anthropomorphized truck perky, and the situations shy of scary. Cuyler even opts to ensure that the burning building is pet- and baby-free. When it comes to true firefighting enthusiasts, more is always better, hence the endpapers’ impressive (not to mention diverse and gender-inclusive) visual dictionary of terms. (Front and rear are identical.) Alas, no fire-safety tips are included aside from the visual image of Jill and crew crawling along the floor, so continue to turn to Mike Austin’s Fire Engine No. 9 (2015) as the industry standard.
A deserving if not divine little book, worthy of its pint-sized enthusiasts. (Picture book. 2-5)