book cover Where There's Smoke…
by Robin Lovell and David Miller

Picture book | 32 pp | Years 2–4

Getting Started


[ Overview | Author profile | Illustrator profile | Useful websites | Focus questions ]


Where There's Smoke... relates a fear-filled day from the eyes of Bodie, a young boy whose farm is threatened by bushfire. As the day unfolds, Bodie sees a succession of emergency service workers go past until the fire eventually threatens his house. The story unfolds dramatically and tension mounts in this vivid telling of an event that occurs all too often in Australian rural communities. Accurate information about fire safety and emergency planning inform the reader and make this a convincing and highly relevant story.

Robin Lovell's story is further developed by David Miller's colourful and highly detailed paper sculptures. These add a three-dimensional quality to the story and include accurate details that help the reader readily identify with the events as they unfold. The scenes are presented from different perspectives, including bird's eye view, panoramic landscapes and close-up detail.

Where There's Smoke... has a straightforward story line that the very young will enjoy. However, older readers will appreciate and respond to the reality of this story, and the complex and atmospheric illustrations that capture hazardous events that face Australians every summer.

Author profile

Robin Lovell was born in Plymouth, England before settling in Lakes Entrance, Victoria in 1951. When he moved to Melbourne as an adult, he worked as a creative director in advertising and it was during this time that he met David Miller, who was then working as an art director. Robin is married with two children and now lives in Tootgarook, a small Victorian town in an area prone to bushfires. Where There's Smoke... is his first picture book for children, although he has also written documentaries and adult fiction.

Illustrator profile

David Miller was born in Sydney. He moved to Melbourne as a child, where he was surrounded by the art materials his father used to create sculptures. After he grew up, David studied art advertising, became an art director and then opened his own graphic design and illustration studio in a mud brick building in the Yarra Valley. David's love of the bush and his involvement in the local volunteer fire brigade is evident in the carefully detailed illustrations throughout Where There's Smoke....

David has illustrated a number of books written by other people including Boo to a Goose by Mem Fox, Over the Hill and Around the Bend with Granny and Bert (and Me) by Helen Lunn, Ringle Tingle Tiger by Mark Austin and Snap! Went Chester by Tania Cox. Other books that he has both written and illustrated include What's For Lunch, Carousel, Just Like You and Me and Refugees.

Useful websites

Focus questions

Before reading the book

  • What clues on the front cover are provided to help the reader predict the theme of the book?
  • What information do the three sources of information on the back cover provide to confirm your prediction?
  • Where do you think Bodie lives? Explain your reasons.
  • From the illustration of the fire truck, name as many items relating to firefighting as you can.

During and after reading the book

  • What actions do Bodie and his mum take to be safe from fire?
  • In what ways do the different emergency services work together to keep people and property safe from fire?
  • How do the various emergency workers demonstrate a commitment to do their best under difficult circumstances?
  • Compare the two different maps in the book. What different types of information do they provide to help the reader understand the severity of the fire hazard?

© Curriculum Corporation 2006