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Back to Young Hoosiers 2008-2009 Nominees: Picture Books (K-3)

Magnus at the Fire

By Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrated by Owen Smith

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN-10: 06898839227
ISBN (13 digit)/EAN: 978-0-689-83922-1
Retail Price: $15.95
Our Net Price:  $10.40 (35% discount)

Subjects / Categories:
Juvenile fiction - history

ASPCA Henry Bergh Book Award Winner
IRA/CBC Children's Choices
Kansas State Reading Circle Primary Titles


Published May 2005
Size: 9.25 x 12 inches
32 Pages
Ages 5-8
Grades K-3

Front Inside Cover:

Magnus lives and works at the Broadway Firehouse. He knows that when the fire alarm clangs, he and his partners, Billy and Sparks, are supposed to spring into action. Without them the firemen would never be able to move the gigantic steam pumper. And without a pumper, the crew wouldn’t be able to put our fires.

Then one day the captain drives into the firehouse in a loud, newfangled contraption called a motorized fire truck. It doesn’t need horses to pull it to a fire. So just like that, Magnus, Sparks, and Billy are out of a job.

A little history, a little humor, and a whole lot of heart are artfully blended in this rousing tale of one high-spirited horse who can’t accept being put out to pasture. And thank goodness! Because it’s that steadfast sense of duty that ultimately saves the day.

About the Author:

Jennifer Armstrong is the author of numerous award-winning picture books, both historical fiction and nonfiction. Two of her picture books, Hugh Can Do and Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat are ALA Notable Books. Her first novel, Steal Away, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and ALA Notable Book, and a Golden Kite Honor Book, and her novel, The Dreams of Mairhe Mehan is a BCCB Blue Ribbon Book. In 1999 her nonfiction account of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914 voyage, Shipwrecked at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance was awared the Orbus Pictus as well as a Boston Globe - Horn Book honor. She lives in New York State.

Excerpt (from


Magnus took a great deal of pleasure and enjoyment from the little bit of pasture behind the firehouse, where he and Sparks and Billy could roll in the grass to scratch their backs any old time they wanted, and they could bask in the sun with their eyes shut, whisking flies with their tails.

But the next time the bell began to peal from the firehouse roof, Magnus dashed to the gate, waiting for the drop of the automatic harness onto his back. He sniffed the air for smoke and trembled with anticipation.

While Magnus stood by the gate, the new fire truck rumbled out of the firehouse with its bell banging away, and the firemen drove off without him. Magnus waited and waited to go to the fire and do his job, just the way he'd done it for ten years.

Text copyright (c) 2005 by Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrations copyright (c) 2005 by Owen Smith


Later, when the truck came rumbling back, Magnus smelled the smoke on the firemen's clothes. They had been to a fire without him. He stayed there for a while longer, smelling the smoke, and then finally, wandered back into the pasture.

The next time the fire bell began clanging from the roof, Magnus didn't wait to be left behind, no sir. The big old horse backed up for a running start, and then sprang clear over the fence. He followed the smell of smoke, galloping down Long Alley and over another two fences, his mane and tail flaring out behind him like flames until he reached the fire at the oyster house on Congress Street. He was standing there, breathing hard, when the fire truck arrived.

"What in blazes is Magnus doing here?" Captain French demanded.

Of course, Magnus couldn't help getting in the way, and he didn't quite know what to do without the pumper to pull. Once the fire was dead, Parillo led Magnus back to the firehouse and put him in the pasture with Sparks and Billy.

Text copyright (c) 2005 by Jennifer Armstrong
Illustrations copyright (c) 2005 by Owen Smith


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