by Dennis Smith; illustrated by Joanne Maffia
Back on the urban front, New York City fire fighter-novelist Dennis Smith (Report from Engine Company 82) offers a vibrant, action-packed story along the lines of The Little Engine That Could. Rusty Engine No. 4, once the company’s pride and joy, has fallen into disuse. But when “almost a full city block” begins to burn, No. 4 is recruited once more. “I liked it when Firefighter Jim took the hose and the engine saved the city,” said Nick, 4. “Also, the part when this guy holded the hose with the other guy.” Kate, 9, was onto deeper meaning. “I know the moral,” she said. “Just stick with what you have.” (Doubleday, $9.95-ages 4-8)
Say, haven’t we met before?
Sure enough, it’s the old video-game coquette, back now in Nintendo format. The game is still as frustrating and mind-numbingly diverting as ever, and this version comes with 36 different mazes, or just about enough to last the average player 14 or 15 years.
This game is, by present-day videogame standards, relatively nonviolent, and those given to nostalgia will be pleased to note that Pac-Man himself makes guest appearances in the two-player configuration.
Can Space Invaders be far behind? (Tengen, $39.95)
(Thad Novak, 10, says, “I’m a fan of shoot-’em-up games, and this is way too tame. But that’s not to say it isn’t challenging, especially if you use the ‘Strange’ setting for the mazes.”)