Rescue Squad No. 9

Rescue Squad No. 9, a helicopter and speedboat crew, is tending to home-base business when a big storm blows in. "SOS. MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!" A sailor and the sailor's dog are in big trouble! Luckily, Rescue Squad No. 9 is ready to jump into action. Lickety-split, the team races to where the sailboat has foundered on a rock. A brave diver leaps from the helicopter and helps the frightened sailor--and barking dog--into the lowered "Billy Pugh" basket (which careful readers will be able to identify by name after studying the descriptive endpapers).

For many young children, nothing tops the thrill of a loud, dangerous rescue story. Mike Austin's fast-moving, boldly illustrated picture book, a follow-up to his Fire Engine No. 9, fits the bill. The full-bleed double-page spreads burst with visual drama boosted by the urgent but simple, minimal text: "ALL CLEAR!" "HOLD ON!" Even older readers will find their pulse quickening as each crew member manages his or her role with intense focus and dedication despite crashing waves, driving rain and howling winds. Attentive readers will love the details: a newspaper headline reading "BIG STORM," the red life jacket the Dalmatian dog is wearing, purple crabs and green seaweed clinging to the rock where the sailor has crashed. An endnote provides water safety tips, and the inside covers feature sea and sky rescue tools such as air horns, ring buoys and parachute flares. This is sure to be a winner among Richard Scarry and Donald Crews fans. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor
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