Score: 88/100 (8.8 out of 10)
This is a sweet children's book about an important subject that needs to be discussed: preventing burns and observing fire safety. It's about as important as learning to look both ways while crossing the street, wear a seat belt while riding in a car, or wearing a helmet while biking, skating, or rollerblading. It could save your child's life or prevent them from being horribly maimed.
This book encourages kids to stay 5 steps away from all fires including hot stoves. That's a great rule of thumb! Think about the other rules of thumb we learned when we were younger that we still try to practice to this day like “maintain two car lengths” when behind another vehicle in case it stops suddenly or “stop, drop, and roll” when on fire or “look both ways” before crossing the street. In time, these rules of thumb can become embedded in the subconscious.
This book is adorable with an important message, however it's not as well put together as we'd like to see. The illustrations are passable. They are beautiful in their own way, and there's a genuine hand-drawn, hand-colored feel to them. However, if you look closely, there are times when things just lack color or appear flat when compared to the rest of the background. For example, the dog on the cover is actually not colored fully, nor are Izzy's lips. Also, why is Izzy's mom's neck so long like on page 9?
The humans are decent looking and easily distinguishable from each other, and the animals are cute. There are times when the characters or the backgrounds look wonky or warped as mentioned before. The other thing that holds this book back a little is that it's a lot to digest in 30 pages. It's dense. There's a lot going on, and a lot being said that we fear is either going to go over your child's head or make them lose interest due to confusion. For one, you're not only following Izza's story but also her puppy, Ella, and her bird, Sonu. We think we know why this was probably done: because in real life, Izza probably actually has two pets named Ella and Sonu. It just got a bit much. It would have been easier for readers if the puppy and bird didn't have names at all. Imagine if a new co-worker came up to you and started talking about “Elizabeth, Ronnie, and Sylvia” at home. You would then have to either ask them who these three people were or you'd have to assume that Elizabeth was his wife, Ronnie was his son, and Sylvia was his daughter. That, or you'd have to just pretend to care and hope he moves on to a more familiar topic. But what if Ronnie was his brother and Sylvia was his sister? What if Sylvia was a cat?
But we understand that it would probably ruin the other purpose of this book as it was intended as a gift to the author's granddaughter, the real Izza.
What about the whole gimmick of having an open-hand symbol mean to repeat the rule of thumb? It got kinda confusing. We weren't quite sure if we were supposed to do this every single time we saw a character with an open palm or just when we saw a specific open palm. Ultimately, it's the grandma's open palm that seems to be the trigger for most of these prompts. When you see it, you're supposed to explain to or repeat with your child to stay 5 steps away from fires. With some practice, you can get it.
The text in this book is a bit much for a children's book. No, it's not long, it's just... dense and kinda flat. There are no rhymes, so it's not much fun to read. And it's a lot of telling and explaining, which is also not much fun in all honesty.
Something that seems to be missing from this book is any real consequence other than the tablecloth getting wet. How much more compelling would this book have been if it had shown a character's hand or paw turning a little red from a slight burn? We know that sounds like it would be too graphic and might not be comfortable for the author to be portraying the stand-in for their granddaughter in pain, but it would punch home the message like nothing else. You could portray slightly reddened skin or a grimaced expression without it being traumatic to a kid. It doesn't have to be bloody or blistered or anything. There was a Smokey the Bear book we read a while back that had a very similar subject matter. It showed that when Smokey was a bear cub, he survived a fire that left his skin a little burnt. Yes, it was kinda uncomfortable to see, but it really reminded our students that forest fires or fires in general can actually be scary and can actually do damage.
It was really cool seeing a review section at the end including a mini quiz. It was also cool seeing that your child can also be an award-winning burn-safety expert.
This book is definitely very cute and worth sharing with your child.
Check it out here!