We could not have asked for a more charming, interactive, and imaginative story book to be our first children’s book review.

From the first page, which announces, “this is a retelling of a story my son shared with me when he was two years old,” it’s clear that The Fire Truck and the Moon is a story of zany possibilities and laughter, taken straight from two year old José’s bountiful imagination.

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What makes children’s books sometimes difficult to relate to is the gap between the audience and the readers. While some stories (think Jan Brett, Dr. Seuss) manage this gap beautifully, others (think Steinbeck’s The Red Pony) seem to broaden this gap, allowing the writer’s adult perspective to overcome the interests of the child reader.

Written by a two year old with a love of dinosaurs (especially the T-Rex), snowy mountaintops and winter weather, and featuring a cast of machines including a firetruck and train engine, the bright imagination thought out by José shines on every page, and eliminates this gap in a way no other storybook truly can. The fantastic subject matter is on par with every conversation in every preschool around the world, set to enthrall and capture any young audience.

Beyond the text, which reads something like a more sophisticated Dick and Jane trainer, with rhythm and repetition that is perfect for any youngster learning to read, or first being introduced to the artistry of children’s books, the illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the magical journey of the characters.

Drawn first by hand before being transferred to the iPad, and touched up on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, each page features a full-size illustration that wonderfully reflects the text below. The illustrations themselves are whimsical outlines filled in with bright textures. Beautiful colors and detailed shapes convey the progression of the story. The most entertaining of all the pictures are easily the dinosaurs, a herd of which roam the pages, sure to inspire the imagination of any child. The drawings easily succeed in visualizing the story on each page, allowing for connections between the words being read aloud and the illustrations. And, when kids start to read on their own, the book’s illustrations give the perfect feedback, as the pictures are a visual interpretation of the words on the page, allowing young readers to reinforce their skills on every page.

One of the strongest elements of the book is this repetition. A page featuring a single dragon in a house becomes a page featuring a multitude of dragons in a house, sticking out from every door, window and chimney. When learning to read, this simple repetition allows young readers and listeners to fully understand the story and its progression. It shows the plot building and the story changing, and is graspable to any young child.

When sharing the story with a youngster, I noticed how, after our first time reading the story book to her, she took the liberty of replacing “Abuela Susi” from the book with “Nana Barb,” who, she thought “looked a lot like Abuela Susi. Connecting the story to her own life made reading the picture book that much more exciting, and she happily read it aloud twice more.

Overall, The Fire Truck and the Moon is a whimsical adventure through the imagination of a child that is a wonderful addition to the library of any child who is learning to read, or about to be. With simple repetition that can be memorized after a few readings, and illustrations that guide the reader through the book, it will instill confidence into any beginning reader, and encourage many more readings.

Number of Pages: 30

Recommended For: a babysitter, before bedtime, anyone beginning to learn to read

Enjoy it With: milk and cookies, vitamins (of the dinosaur variety)

For fans of: Easy Readers, Dick and Jane, dinosaurs, trucks, machines

Best place to buy it: http://www.amazon.com/Fire-Truck-Moon-Chris-Dunst-ebook/dp/B00HERCIH0, or, on iBooks, where an edition that features José telling the story aloud can be purchased.

To read the author’s take on the journey behind the story, please read his blog post here: http://y2kemo.com/2013/12/fire-truck-moon-story-fantastical-story-by-two-year-old/

 

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