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The Picture Book Buzz

Fire Chief Fran - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

There are a number of picture books on fire fighters but like the profession itself there are few that prominently feature women, let alone a female fire chief. This picture book does a wonderful job of portraying an ordinary day in the life of Fran's fire crew.

Fire Chief Fran

Author: Linda Ashman

Illustrator: Nancy Carpenter

Publisher: Astra Books for Young Kids

Ages: 4-8



Female fire chief, firefighters, rhyming, and community helpers.


Perfect for fans of firefighters and fire trucks, this energetic rhyming picture book shows how a fire chief and her crew keep their community safe.

. . . lights begin flashing,

and—CLANG!—the bells blast.

They leap into action—

they need to move FAST!

If a puppy is in danger or a café is on fire, Fire Chief Fran is ready to help! Featuring a strong female role model, a huge fire truck, and an action-packed story, this read-aloud is a dynamic introduction to a day in the life of a firefighter. Follow along as Fire Chief Fran and her team respond not only to fires, but also to injuries, blocked roads, and more. With an irresistible rhyming text, acclaimed author Linda Ashman celebrates the many ways that firefighters help their communities. The book concludes with an author’s note that is packed with further fascinating information about firefighters, their equipment, their fire trucks, their training, and more.

Opening Lines:

Fire Chief Fran meets with her crew.

It’s a new shift—

there’s so much to do!

The trucks are inspected above and below.

The tools and equipment are ready to go

What I LOVED about this book:

After providing an area map on the dedication spread (allowing kids to look back and track the rural fire station's activities), the rhyming text follows the fire fighters throughout a day in their life.

Text © Linda Ashman, 2022. Image © Nancy Carpenter, 2022.

I love that, although (as noted in the back matter) less than 10 percent of firefighters "are women, and fire chiefs—the top-ranked officers in fire departments—are just a small fraction of that total," the fire chief, Fran, is a Black woman and there are 2 other women in this ethnically and age diverse seven person crew. And I love the personality and antics of the fire station dog which Nancy Carpenter added in the illustrations.

As they begin their day inspecting the trucks and equipment . . .

Text © Linda Ashman, 2022. Image © Nancy Carpenter, 2022.

lights begin flashing,

and—CLANG!—the bells blast.

They leap into action—

they need to move FAST!

This wonderfully quick paced, charged refrain appears throughout the book whenever they are called to help. Not only heralding an upcoming emergency situation, but creating the perfect page turn and segue from their activities at the fire station. Their first call is to free a dog stuck in a metal fence. Returning to the station, they crew exercises and drills. Until they are called to an accidental campfire. They head back to the station for a class tour. When you guessed it, the bells CLANG and they race off to help two injured baseball players. Kudos to Nancy for making the catcher a girl.

Once back at the station, they practice more drills so that whether “A twister, a crash, a flood or a fall—/we have to be ready, whatever the call!”

Text © Linda Ashman, 2022. Image © Nancy Carpenter, 2022.

They get called to a weather related emergency and lastly a fire. In between these emergencies, they attempt to eat and relax and get some rest. Until the next emergency call.

The illustrations, featuring bright, primary colors, combine with the text to create a realistic and captivating portrayal of a day for these fire fighters. If it hadn't specified that the illustrations used acrylic paint and digital media, I'd have sworn they were done with collage; there are a lot of interesting texturing in the illustrations.

Wonderful back matter explains the small liberties taken for the sake of the story and answers questions kids are likely to ask - about truck colors, uniforms, and how fast they can get ready. Overall, it is a terrific book showing the work, training, and compassion of these dedicated individuals.


- make some easy fire truck cookies Taste Of Home)

- design your own egg-carton fire truck (© Mini Made Things)

- try the crossword puzzle on the publisher's website.

- take a tour of your neighborhood fire station. Is it the same or different than Frans? What's the most common emergency call they answer?

If you missed the interview with Linda Ashman on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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