Fire Chief Fran

Astra. Dec. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781635924268.
K-Gr 2–Less than 10 percent of firefighters are women. Even fewer are fire chiefs. Readers can count Fire Chief Fran, a Black woman, among that small, illustrious number. In this book, Fire Chief Fran and her crew tackle many incidents during one busy day in a small town. A cafe catches fire, a puppy gets stuck in a fence, a tree branch falls. There is little downtime. Firefighters must put out fires, perform rescues, and administer first aid. Ashman’s text is serviceably crisp, but a few rhythmic blips will trip up readers performing the book aloud. A highlight and saving grace is how the same verse repeats when the alarm bells go off throughout the day. This repetition, much like the clanging of the alarm bell, does a great job alerting readers to an emergency. Carpenter’s illustrations are digitally enhanced acrylic paintings, using a predominantly primary color palette: red fire truck, yellow turnout gear, navy blue shirts. In addition to Fire Chief Fran, other firefighters are depicted with a variety of skin tones, genders, and ages. Back matter provides a comprehensive look at firefighting as a profession, including the statistics. Ashman concisely answers many questions young readers may ask, including how quickly firefighters must get ready and what they do when they’re not responding to emergency calls.
VERDICT A must-have for all community helper collections.

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