Sparky the Fire Dog
written by Don Hoffman; illustrated by Todd Dakins
2011 (Imagine Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
Available on October 1st
One of the highlight weeks of a preschool or kindergarten year is National Fire Prevention Week, which is October 9-15 this year. We either visit a fire station or ask firefighting personnel to visit our classrooms. It's an important week as we teach children to think about how they can promote fire safety in their homes. An old ally in helping to publicize the need for fire safety is 60 years old this year and he is the subject of a new book.
Sparky the Fire Dog is a member of Fire Station Number 5 as a result of his heroics in alerting firefighters to a young girl's burning home. During the day, Sparky sits next to the captain in the fire truck. At night he dreams of being a superhero who alerts others to potential dangers in and around their homes. In his dream, he leads a group of Junior Inspectors in visiting homes in the neighborhood. They change batteries in Mrs. Sheep's fire alarms. Mrs. Flamingo is alerted to an unattended candle burning in her house. Ellie the Elephant and her mother share the escape plan they have created. Sparky and his friends go from house to house doing good deeds related to fire safety. A fire alarm awakes Sparky and he races to the fire truck remembering how much he loves being a fire dog.
Sparky the Fire Dog is an engaging vehicle for discussing fire safety with young children. The narrative of the story weaves in tips which can be used for teaching fire safety in the classroom. This book would be an excellent resource for preparing children who are about to visit a fire station or receive a visit from firefighting personnel. The class could create a list of safety tips contained in the book. You could use these tips to create an illustrated booklet where each child illustrates one page that has a safety tip written on it. Another activity would be to draw a T chart and ask students which safety tips are known and which ones are new knowledge.
Other activities such as drawing a home escape plan can be found at http://www.sparky.org. A good home activity for children and adults would be to review the inspection checklist.