The Little Fireboat That Could
Friday, September 09, 2011
Maira Kalman has written and illustrated more than a dozen books, for children and adults. In the months following 9/11, when a friend suggested she write a book about the attacks, she said, “Absolutely not. I'm in the world of humor. This is a very sad story and it's very intense and I don't want to deal with it.”
However, within a year, she published Fireboat, a children's book. It's a true story about a real boat in New York's harbor. The book starts when the boat was new, the 1930s, and Kalman includes lovely period details about life in the city — the new Empire State Building, the new Snickers bar. The boat ages gracefully and is retired. But then the story turns to September 11, 2001, when the old fireboat is pressed into service to help fight the fires at Ground Zero.
Kalman explains to Kurt Andersen, “it really talks to kids about how horrific things can happen — and will happen. So what do you do?”
Slideshow: Scenes from Maira Kalman’s Fireboat