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The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

by Maira Kalman

Reviewed December 7, 2002.
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2002.  40 pages.
2003 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Award Winner
Available at Sembach Library (J 974.71 KAL)

This is a simple but powerful picture book.  Powerful, because it deals with September 11 on a children’s level, and manages to bring a good message around that terrible event.

The book tells the story of a fireboat in New York City.  It was first launched in 1931 and used to fight fires on the piers of the river.  Eventually, as the piers closed, people decided that the JohnJ. Harvey was no longer needed.  However, a small group of people decidedto buy the boat and restore it.

Then came September 11th, 2001.  With stark and simple pictures the book tells us that the whole world shook.  Many people rushed to help.  At first, the old fireboat was intended to be used to ferry people across the river.  Then they discovered that the firefighters needed water, since pipes were broken around the towers.  They attached hoses to the John J. Harvey, and the old boat once again fought a fire.

The end result is a beautiful little book about using something that people thought was useless and working together against all odds.

Related Reviews:
Ah-hA to Zig-Zag
Why We Broke Up

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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