Picture Book Review: The Little Fire Engine

ImageToday is Perfect Picture Book Friday. If you would like to find more reviews of awesome picture books, please head over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for over 1000 categorized book reviews plus activities.

When I read Susanna’s entry for this week, it reminded of one of the classic picture book writer/illustrators, Lois Lenski. She wrote dozens of books over 60 years ago and many of them – like The Little Fire Engine – are back in print in brand-new editions.

The Little Fire Engine

Written and illustrated by Lois Lenski

Publisher: Random House 2000 (originally published Scholastic Books 1946)

Theme: Helping others, firemen, fire trucks

Synopsis: Fireman Smail suits up and rushes to town to battle a fire. When he saves a young girl, Fireman Smail becomes the hero of Tinytown

Why I like this book

  • This book brought back many happy memories.
  • Published in 1946, it was a fairly new book when my mother read it to me.
  • Although we won’t find the splashy colorful illustration of today’s books, the author/illustrator was one of the first to write to the modern child.
  • The story is simple and straightforward and even young ones will love the fire truck that races to put out the fire.

How parents can use this book:

  • Nice read–aloud with a simple story
  • Talk about fire safety
  • Set up a fire emergency plan – where will the family meet


Make a Fire Truck

You can make a wonderful fire engine using a box or empty milk container.

You can also make a great geometric fire truck picture using rectangles, circles and squares cut from construction paper.

Find great instructions for all here:


Busy moms on the run need quick and easy fun ideas to do with their kids. Read a picture book with your child. Then do a simple craft project. A few minutes of positive parental participation will make so much difference in your child’s life.

  • Build self-esteem!
  • Develop stronger language skills!
  • Create a life-long parent-child bond

Please don’t forget that we have FREE SHIPPING on my website this month for my book that gives you 100 picture book recommendations and a craft project and recipe for each title.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on April 12, 2013, in Fire Safety, Perfect Pictture Book Friday, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. What a great book for kids. I love how old stories are coming back in print. Often they have such a clear cut vision. This is a great addition to PPBF and I always love your ideas for crafts and activities. Thanks Vivian.


    • Glad you liked it, Diane! So many parents neglect to discuss fire safety with their young children and every family should have fire drills now and then…this book would be a perfect opportunity to have that talk. πŸ™‚   


  2. THAT is one little fire engine! My husband’s eldest son is a fire chief and are three grandsons loved books about fire engines. They had the gear and all. This sounds like a good book and your activity to make a fire truck is great


  3. Cute! I like the firetruck activity!


  4. Is it childhood memories that makes me swoon over Lenski’s illustrations?


    • Perhaps.:) They are unique, aren’t they? But these books must have been classics already when you were a child, Julie!    


      • Good question, when does a PB become a classic…hmmm…thanks for provoking!


        • Great discussion topic, Julie…just when DOES a picture book become a classic? πŸ™‚ After a certain number of years? When kids of more than one generation want to hear it over and over again? What do you think?   


          • Especially after Susanna’s post about teh book she read to her son 3 million times, I thought more about one I’d read to my daughter – maybe even more often – and wondered if it was the story, the rhythm, the rhymes, alliteration – what? And I believe there must be something that goes beyond enjoying the story over and over, as I had once thought she liked it BECAUSE I read it over and over. It must feel like a good song that get’s stuck in your head, but hasn’t yet reached the point of boredom or annoyance. I believe very young children choose their favorites because of the music they hear in the telling. Now, that book was no classic, neither was the one my son repeatedly chose. Now, after all that, I still don’t know what makes a classic!!!


            • Julie…what a beautiful comment! I love how you described the books that young children want to hear over and over again – ‘like a good song that gets stuck in our head- because of the music they hear in the telling’…what a GREAT description! I think that is a perfect way to express why kids love picture books…and perhaps it will help us write winning ones. πŸ™‚  


  5. Great choice, Vivian. I love this book! The illustrations today are very different, but this story is wonderful.


  6. Your book and mine came out in new editions. I love that when it happens. πŸ™‚


  7. Is this the Fireman Small from Ms Hill’s PPBF book? How fun is that?! I hope he gets some help in this book! I’ll have to check them both out! thanks!


    •  I’m actually not sure…I don’t think so.:) The books are written by different authors and in different generations. πŸ™‚ But both are super books and Fireman Small is helpful in both. πŸ™‚  


  8. this book reminds me of an book my mom bought for me when I was young and I haven’t really found anything like that again. I love classics and I just can’t wait to share classic books like this to my daughter πŸ™‚

    Spanish Pinay


    • I’m so glad to see you hear, Marilou! I saw you had posted recently…I will visit your blog also. πŸ™‚ I’m sure your little one loves story time with you. How is she doing? Reading picture books with young children is such an important activity!   


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