by Godwin Chu and Jamie Turak
This week’s Dollar Deal, Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos, showcases the unique strengths of both of its talented creators, Dan Santat and Susan Middleton Elya.
Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator Dan Santat’s colorful and vibrant art on every page really sets this picture book apart.
And author Susan Middleton Elya seamlessly incorporates Spanish vocabulary into the narrative to make this bilingual story fun for kids.
Dan was kind enough to create an original piece of artwork for our blog this week. Pictured below is his imaginative take on how he himself might put out a fire. (Warning: don’t try this at home!)
And here’s an inside look at how author Susan Middleton Elya created this action-packed bilingual picture book about firefighters and their importance in every community.
Read Susan’s take on writing Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos, as well as some insights on teaching Spanish to students:
“I have published 29 books for children, 27 with Spanish in them. I used to teach Spanish to high school and middle school students, and I learned that they would rather learn words for things than conjugate verbs. So my books have lots of Spanish words for things and hardly any verbs.
“I think the rhymes help the reader pronounce the words correctly, so I like the Spanish words to be the rhyme words whenever possible. I also like to use things that people already know, like the expression ‘Stop, drop, and roll.’ This is a safety term for what to do if you are on fire. Don’t run, don’t panic. Get down on the ground and roll around to smother the fire.
“I like to tell a story with scene changes so that the illustrator has lots of things to draw. I like to write about things kids like, and who doesn’t like a firefighter?
“I also wanted one of the firefighters to be a woman, since girls can become firefighters if they are strong and brave enough.
“I hope you enjoy Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos!”
Susan Middleton Elya grew up in Urbandale, Iowa. She is the author of 29 children’s books, including the Say Hola to Spanish series and the Eight Animals series. Just like Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos, most of her books are written in English with Spanish words sprinkled throughout, and they’re a great way to introduce Spanish to a child or adult reader. Before she became a published author, Susan taught middle school and high school Spanish in Nebraska, Iowa, and California. She has also lived abroad for many years in Venezuela and Spain, and she’s spent much of her career teaching English as a second language throughout California. Today she lives in Northern California with her family. To learn more, visit: susanelya.com
Dan Santat is an award-winning author and illustrator with an unrelenting passion for children’s books. Over the course of his career, he has created illustrations for more than 60 books, including favorites like Fire! ¡Fuego! Brave Bomberos, Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World), and the Caldecott Medal–winning The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend (which he also wrote, and the film rights were recently acquired by DreamWorks Animation). Outside of children’s books, Dan also created the hit Disney Channel show The Replacements and illustrated for prestigious clients like the Wall Street Journal, Esquire, and more. Today, he lives in Southern California with his wife, two children, and various pets. Learn more on his website: dantat.com
For some quick Fire Safety Tips to share with your class, click here.
This Book Is Available from Scholastic Book Clubs