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The Fire Cat

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  4,732 ratings  ·  102 reviews
Pickles is a young cat with big paws who wishes to do big things with them! When he's adopted by the local firehouse, Pickles works hard to be a good fire cat. He learns to jump on a fire truck. He learns to help put out a fire, and he even helps out in a rescue!

Beginning readers will cheer as Pickles gets his wish and finds something big to do with his paws. With sweet il
Paperback, 64 pages
Published September 7th 1983 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1960)
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Community Reviews

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This book made me cry as I was reading it in the bookstore. Then I showed it to my therapist and it made him cry. (In all fairness, he's pretty easy. But still.) It's about a cat who turns his life around by doing good works. I'm serious. Listen, just read it, ok?
I absolutely love this story! From the first few words--so simple, yet placed together in such a tender and descriptive way--I was a goner! Nevermind that the illustrations are also so simple, yet so full of character--I want to adopt our spunky spotted cat with the big paws and even bigger dreams. All the characters are great, Mrs. Goodkind and the firemen and The Chief. What a lovely story about the joys of finding one's purpose in the world--and how a lack of fulfillment can make one grumpy a ...more
Jamie Winslow
The Fire Cat is a story about a cat named Pickles that lived in a barrel in a large yard next to a big house. In the house lived a lady named Mrs. Goodkind who had several cats of her own. Pickles was a cat with big paws who wanted to do big things but the only thing he knew how to do was chase other cats that came into his yard. Mrs. Goodking told Pickles that he should not chase those cats and that he needed a good home and she brought him into her home. Although it was nice Pickles wanted to ...more
I enjoyed revisiting The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. I read this one many times as a child. But I had no idea it was part of a larger series of books, the Cat Club series by Esther Averill. The Fire Cat does not star Jenny Linsky. It stars Pickles. Pickles has been a delightful character in almost all of the other books in the series. He is probably one of Jenny's best best friends. In the Fire Cat, readers learn more about Pickles. Was he always a fire cat? Of course not! There was a time he wa ...more
Is there a way to give a book more than 5 stars? Because I love this book more than 5 stars worth. I read it constantly as a child, and it's still fun today. Oh, Pickles. What a good cat you are!
What a sweet, funny book. Logan read this aloud to me last night and we laughed and laughed at Pickles' expressions and especially about Pickles thrusting his paw out for the fireman to see. Also, my son was thrilled to notice Jenny Linsky in the fire truck. We both love Jenny and her cameo appearance was a bonus. A classic story about finding a purpose, pursuing your dreams, kindling your compassion, and finding a place where you feel you belong.
Donna Crane
Many level one readers are awkward for read-alouds but not The Fire Cat! With its engaging text superbly supported by simple but effective illustrations this title works for both early readers and younger children too. Why would a yellow and black spotted cat make trouble and chase other cats? Because he hasn't yet found his life's work! Pickles is a stray who needs to have his prodigious gifts channeled into meaningful activity. Mrs. Goodkind recognizes his potential and arranges for him to be ...more
Melissa Foley
"The Fire Cat," is geared toward readers ages 3-8. It is a sweet story about a cat that does not want to be a house cat. Instead, Pickles wants to work in a fire station and help the fireman save people and other cats. Pickles practices hard to become a fire cat and proves he is worth keeping at the fire station. He becomes one of the fire crew.

Children will be drawn to this story because it involves firemen, a cat, and a warm-hearted story about a cat who use to do bad things, and then later,
Elijah Libert
Pickles learned his lesson about chasing cats when he worked at the firehouse. He wanted to do big things and he did do big things.
Heather B.
It is a cute story about a homeless cat, Pickles, wanting to do big things in his life with his big paws. One day after chasing a little cat up a big tree he could not get down and fire fighters had to be called. The fire fighter got him out of the tree and he asked the fire chief if Pickles could stay at the firehouse. Pickles did get the opportunity to live at the firehouse and become a firehouse cat. After much practice and hard work Pickles became a good cat fire fighter. Recommend for early ...more
I still love this young reader's chapter book-- probably suitable for first graders now. Its lesson about learning not to bully is worth repeating, but the charming (if sometimes ergonomically improbable)adventures of Pickles, and the input of those who care about him still shine through.

Pickles is bored with nothing to do, so he chases the little cats away whenever he sees them. The lady who cares about him tells him he must change his ways, but he doesn't know how. Then he gets stuck in a tree

A Review

This book was originally published in 1960, so comparing its illustrations and other details to modern books seems a bit unfair. The illustrations are not great, but the book is still around in libraries and schools and has been re-published several times. In short, even though it looks a little dated, the story still stands.

Generally speaking, I dislike books with anthropomorphism, but in this case, I think the author uses the technique without
I read the Swedish version of this book, "Brand katten". Amazingly I understood a lot of it.

A cute story about an orphan cat who is eventually adopted by a firestation after being rescued from being stuck in a tree. The kitty learns how to be a good fire-cat, including sliding down the firepole and riding in the firetruck. Eventually he is called on to rescue another kitty in the very same tree he was stuck in.
Mar 22, 2012 GlobeRunner rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Very young, aspiring firefighters...and other kids.
I read about "The Fire Cat" here on GoodReads and it felt like the perfect book for my little nephew. I had to read it in Swedish, as the library didn't have the original version. It was just as good as I thought it would be, and now I will order it in English and translate it into Italian for my nephew myself! (He is a 4-year-old aspiring a firefighter).
Brian Wilson
This one of the first books I ever read. It is a testament to the strength of feline endurance and shows that no matter what goes wrong in your life, you can always turn it around and triumph. And the cat is named Pickles. How can you not like a book about a fire cat named Pickles? Some day I want to be just like Pickles.
Sep 14, 2007 Nicole rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: booksihaveread
I loved Pickles the fire cat. My mom used to read this book nightly. It brings back such great memories reading with my mom and it was one of my first books I learned to read. Also...#1 firefighters are hot! #2 I wanted to be a veteranarian back then, but then I found out about animal blood, guts and vomit... no thank you.
This is one of my favorite children's books that I read over and over again as a beginner. Pickles is an adventurous cat who wants to be a fire cat at the fire station. With hard work, Pickles accomplishes his dreams and does just that. This book is a simple chapter book for young readers.
It's got a spotted cat instead of a dalmatian for the fire department mascot. And the cat wears a fire hat. It's brilliant. Go and read all the Esther Averill forthwith.
August Maclauchlan
My 4 year old loved this book. At the end of the book we looked at each other with tears in our eyes!:) awesome book!
One of my favorites to read with my mom as a kid, its now a favorite of Erin's. Who wouldn't love Pickles?
A really great book shows us how everything is great and worth to die for
I discovered The Fire Cat when my son Christopher was around 3 or 4 yrs. old. Every other week we would walk to the (neighborhood) Park Hill Library to check out books and he absolutely loved this story. It was definitely one of his favorites. Of course Chris was very much into playing fireman. He had a bright red pedal fire truck, a Radio Shack fire hat that lit-up and made this loud siren noise. He would wear his orange winter coat and black winter boots and ride up and down the block in his t ...more
Pickles is not a bad cat. He is not a good cat. He is a good and bad cat.
How true it is for so many cats I know. Pickles is a yard cat living a somewhat troubled life without purpose. Until he goes to live at the fire station, that is.
Christy gave Emerson's mommy this book in June 2002. What a month that was! Mommy was just finishing her residency and had just taken her board examinations. Who knew that mommy would be reading this book 11 years later to a little boy named Emerson!
Mommy tried
Austen to Zafón
What a sweet, funny book. My son just read this aloud to me last night and we laughed and laughed at Pickles' expressions and especially about Pickles thrusting his paw out for the fireman to see. Also, my son was thrilled to notice Jenny Linsky in the fire truck. We both love Jenny and her cameo appearance was a bonus. A classic story about finding a purpose, pursuing your dreams, kindling your compassion, and finding a place where you feel you belong.
Read with Una for Kumon recommended reading for level AII.

I like how Pickles is not marked as a bad cat despite him bullying/chasing after little cats. It gives young readers a subtle hint that even if they did something bad, that bad thing doesn't define them. I also like that he changed and was able to redeem himself. And when it's his turn to save someone from the tree, it comes into a full circle.
Lana Clifton
Currently this happens to be my six year old son's favorite book. He loves fire-trucks and cats, so he especially likes this cat who rides on a fire-truck. This book had his interest before he could even read words. He would tell me the story by following the pictures alone.

Although he loves this book, it kinda bothers the feminist within, because there are no fire-women. Where is the adventure for Mrs. Goodkind? Is it so far-fetched that a polka-dotted cat would be honored for bravery before a
So Pickles is a naughty cat, always chasing other cats and generally being mean. He gets stuck up a tree and the firemen rescue him. Pickles decides to turn his life around and be the best fire cat there is.

I don't consider it a level one reader though. It had many words in it which are not phonetic (like climbed and against) or are a little harder than 'easy readers'. It's probably better suited to kids who've been reading a bit first otherwise they'll get frustrated. It took my struggling read
My 6 year old wants to be a fire chief someday. I thought this book would be an excellent way to teach him to read. He loved it and I hope he will learn to read it!
Awesome book dealing with moral and character traits. "The Fire Cat" is appropriate for children ages 7-10.
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Esther Averill (1902-1992) began her career as a storyteller drawing cartoons for her local newspaper. After graduating from Vassar College in 1923, she moved first to New York City and then to Paris, where she founded her own publishing company. The Domino Press introduced American readers to artists from all over the world, including Feodor Rojankovsky, who later won a Caldecott Award. In 1941, ...more
More about Esther Averill...
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“One day Mrs. Goodkind said,
'Pickles, you are not a bad cat.
You are not a good cat.
You are good and bad.
And bad and good.
You are a mixed-up cat.
What you need is a good home.
Then you will be good.' ”
More quotes…