Dangerous Wildfires by Lola Schaefer – PPBF

Dangerous Wildfires: Part of the Lightning Bolt Book Collection

Lola Schaefer, Author

Photographs: Acknowledgments of contributors at the end of the book

Lerner Publications, Nonfiction,  Jan. 1, 2022

Suitable for ages: 6 – 9

Themes: Wildfires, Climate Change, Danger, Staying Safe 

Opening: “Lightning strikes dry grass. The wind blows and sparks fly. A fire begins.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Climate change is making wildfires worse, and it’s important to know how to stay safe. Read about what causes a fire, what makes it grow, and what happens when fire makes people leave their homes.

A spark from a lightning strike or a campfire can quickly grow into a wildfire covering acres. Learn about the types of wildfires, how climate change increases the danger, and how to stay safe. Plus hear from a wildfire survivor!

Why I like this book:

Many readers live in areas where wildfires reek havoc in the forests around them.  Sadly, wildfires are becoming part of their lives. And if they aren’t personally impacted they see the wildfires reported on the daily news.

This book is age appropriate for emerging readers, 6-9. It is beautifully designed so that readers will enjoy the simple text — four chapters that explain what happens, gives important facts, answers many of their questions, and includes  amazing photographs on each page that showcase wildfires from beginning to end. Each photo has a brief insert that points to what the text explains. Readers will be surprised to learn that wildfires can do some good.  

This book is part of a larger series, the Earth in Danger — part of the Lightning Bolt Books collection.. Some of the other titles include: Dangerous Blizzards, Dangerous Droughts, Dangerous Earthquakes, Dangerous Floods, Dangerous Hurricanes, Dangerous Tornadoes, and Dangerous Volcanoes. Sadly enough, we are dealing with all of these dangers every year.

These books belong in every elementary school library. They are perfect go-to books that can be used in the classroom or used by kids for reports.

Resources: The book is a resource and will lead to many important discussions at home and school.  If you live in areas where wildfires begin, put together a safety kit for home or school (instructions in the book).

You may want to check out the Smokey the Bear Link for kids and educators. Sign up to be a Smokey’s Scout and explore the fun activities.   

Lola Schaefer is a professional author, teacher and public speaker. She has published more than 275 books in the past 25 years with trade, school/library, and classroom publishers. She is a writing consultant in elementary and middle schools, as well as a frequent presenter at writing conferences and workshops. She lives and works in Georgia.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

 

 

 

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Healer and Witch by Nancy Werlin

Healer & Witch 

Nancy Werlin, Author

Candlewick Press, Apr. 12, 2022

Suitable for ages: 9-12

Pages: 304

Themes: Healer, Witch, Magic, Danger, Deceit, Trusting one’s self, Historical fiction

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Sylvie and her mother and grandmother are beloved, trusted healers in their medieval French village at the end of the Middle Ages, though some whisper that fifteen-year-old Sylvie and her grand-mere deal in more than herbs and medicines. Perhaps they’re a bit . . . witchy? After her grandmother dies, and an attempt to use magic to heal her mother’s grief yield tragic consequences, Sylvie leaves her village in search of a teacher. Accompanied by Martin, the farrier’s youngest son, Sylvie finds herself on a journey rife with strange alliances, powerful temptations, danger and deceit.

In the end, there may be only one wise woman Sylvie can trust in a world that would define her limits: herself. 

Steeped in the healing arts and magic, award-winning author Nancy Werlin’s first novel for younger readers is a beautifully crafted, quietly powerful story that follows a young woman gifted with magic as she struggles to manage her powers — and claim her strength — without violence.

Why I like Healer & Witch:  

Nancy Werlin has written an enthralling adventure about a girl’s journey of self-discovery, believing in herself, finding courage in the midst of danger, and taking her place in the world.  Werlin’s writing is original, lyrical and magical, despite the themes of danger, deceit and evil.  Readers will enjoy spending time in medieval France where healers are considered witches and could face Inquisition, This story will encourage readers to form their own opinions about the differences between healing and witchcraft. 

The characters are compelling and unforgettable as they reveal their good and evil natures along the way. Sylvie is a 15-year-old healer who has made a terrible mistake. Sylvie is a sensitive and deeply caring individual who knows that her gift is from God and that she must use it for good. Since she no longer has her Grand-mère to guide her, she embarks upon a journey to find a teacher who can help her understand and use her gift. Eight-year-old Martin, is a cheerful, barefoot boy who wants to see the world instead of becoming a farrier alongside his father. He joins Sylvie and his presence offers an unexpected perspective to the story. Along the way they meet Ceciline, a wise women, Monsieur Robert Chouinard, a merchant and businessman, and Madame du Bois, an astrologer. Each character will reveal their true nature and help Sylvie make new discoveries about herself.

The short chapters make for easy reading, and Sylvie’s gripping journey will keep even reluctant readers turning pages just to find out what’s going to happen next. I was surprised by the ending, which is satisfying and hopeful.

Nancy Werlin is the author of several books for teens, including, Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good, the National Book Award Finalist The Rules of Survival, the Edgar Award winner The Killer’s Cousin, and the New York Times bestseller Impossible. About Healer and Witch, her first novel for middle-grade readers, she says, “Reading historical fiction was my very first love.” Nancy Werlin lives outside Boston.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by Candlewick Press in exchange for a review.

 

Daring Darlene: Queen of the Screen by Anne Nesbet

Daring Darleen: Queen of the Screen

Anne Nesbet, Author

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Apr. 14, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Silent films, Acting, Kidnappers, Villains, Danger, Adventure, Courage

Synopsis:

Lights! Camera! Kidnapping? When a publicity stunt goes terribly wrong, twelve-year-old Darleen Darling, star of the silent film era, must defeat villains both on screen and off in this edge-of-your-seat adventure.

It’s 1914, and Darleen Darling’s film adventures collide with reality when a fake kidnapping set up by her family studio becomes all too real. Suddenly Darleen finds herself in the hands of dastardly criminals who have just nabbed Miss Victorine Berryman, the poor-little-rich-girl heiress of one of America’s largest fortunes.

Soon real life starts to seem like a bona fide adventure serial, complete with dramatic escapes, murderous plots, and a runaway air balloon. Will Darleen and Victorine be able to engineer their own happily-ever-after, or will the villains be victorious?

Why I like this book:

Daring Darleen is a fascinating peek into early silent films. There is so much to love about Anne Nesbet’s latest piece of historical fiction about a daring 12-year-old heroine and her family of movie makers. Money is low in 1914, so Matchless Studios gives the gives the public what it wants, “chases, plunges, trains, and villains.” And Darling Darleen becomes Daring Darleen. This story is a page-turner with an engaging plot.

The authentic friendship that develops between Darlene and heiress Victorine Berryman, really gives the story its heart. Their backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Darleen is a spunky, clever and resourceful heroine who is even more couragous in real life. After she and Victorine are kidnapped, she plots their escape from a seventh-story building window. Victorine is refined and elegant. She loves to read and is quite the world traveler. Telling the truth matters most to Victorine. The girls bond over the loss of Darlen’s mother and Victorine’s grandmother. They have a mystery to solve and together they are relentless. As the story progresses, readers will marvel at Victorine’s growth in self-confidence.

The girls also befriend the elegant French-speaking Madame Alice Guy Blaché, owner of Solax Studios, who helps them uncover a mystery regarding Victorine’s inheritance and cruel guardians. I was delighted that Nesbit includes Madame Blanché in her story, as a tribute to her real-life contribution in early film history. Blanché was the first filmmakers to “tell a story” in film and was the first woman to run a film studio.

Although the novel is a work of fiction, it is based on the “thrilling true story of the rise of the film industry.” And the story is set in Ft. Lee, NJ, where many of the “photoplays” were filmed. Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end of the story to learn more about the history of film making, because Anne Nesbit is a Professor of Film and Media history at the University of California.

Anne Nesbet is the author of the historical middle-grade novels Cloud and Wallfish and The Orphan Band of Springdale, as well as three fantasy novels for middle-graders. Her books have received numerous accolades, including multiple starred reviews and appearances on many best book and notables lists. A professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Anne Nesbet lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

*Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Gold Rush Girl by Avi

Gold Rush Girl

Avi, Author

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 10, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 10-14

Themes: Gold Rush, San Francisco, Tent City, Danger, Independence, Freedom, Friendship

Opening: “Have you ever been struck by lightning?
I have.
I write not of the sparkling that bolts from the sky, but of gold, the yellow metal buried in the earth and the shatter-wit world of those who seek it. That world turned me topsy-turvy, so that I did things I never dreamed I would or could do.”

Publisher Synopsis:

Thirteen-year-old Victoria (Tory) Blaisdell longs for independence and adventure, and she yearns to accompany her father as he sails west in search of real gold! But it is 1848, and Tory isn’t even allowed to go to school, much less travel all the way from Rhode Island to California. Determined to take control of her own destiny, Tory stows away on the ship.

Though San Francisco is frenzied and full of wild and dangerous men, Tory finds freedom and friendship there. Until one day, when Father is in the gold fields, her younger brother, Jacob, is kidnapped. And so Tory is spurred on a treacherous search for him in Rotten Row, a part of San Francisco Bay crowded with hundreds of abandoned ships.

Beloved storyteller Avi is at the top of his form as he ushers us back to an extraordinary time of hope and risk, brought to life by a heroine readers will cheer for. Spot-on details and high suspense make this a vivid, absorbing historical adventure.

Why I like this book:

Avi’s story is electrifying — pun intended! His storytelling is rich and visual and will stimulate your senses. Readers will smell the stench of San Francisco — the rotting boats,  street sewage, drunken and sweaty men, and soaked sailcloth tents. They will feel what it’s like to trudge through thick mud and dense fog. “The land of glittering gold revealed itself as mostly rich in rubbish.” 

What a joy it is to journey with Tory (13) and experience the gold rush through her point of view. With gold fever high, the plot is brimming with excitement, trickery, risks and danger. The research that went into every detail of this story, really gives readers insight into this historical time period. When Tory and her family arrive in San Francisco Bay, she is shocked to see hundreds of ships that were deserted in what was called the Rotten Row. Sea captains and their crews headed towards the gold fields. Make sure you read Avi’s note and map about the shipsof Rotten Row at the end, because it is fascinating!

The characters are multi-layered, but memorable. Tory is a spunky and determined heroine. When her father leaves for the gold fields, Tory is left to care for her young brother, Jacob (9), who is sullen, worries and waits on the beach for his mother to arrive. Because of the high cost of food and supplies, their money runs out. Tory buys men’s clothing and finds work rowing arriving passengers ashore, working construction and doing other jobs. She’s paid in grains of gold and is delighted that she is gaining more wealth in the city than her father is laboring in the fields. Tory is living the freedom and independence that’s she’s longed for. She’s happy, physically and mentally strong.

There many colorful characters in the story. Tory develops a friendship with Thad, who works at a local store and helps her improve her rowing skills. Thad is a calm and quiet and a nice balance for Tory. But he also enjoys taking risks, drinking and gambling. Across the street from her tent, is Senor Rosales, a Mexican café owner. He is a kind “uncle” and does his best to keep an eye on both Jacob and Tory. She also befriends a black boy, Sam, who plays his bugle at a shady saloon owned by an evil man, Mr. Kassel. When Jacob suddenly disappears, it is Sam who tells Tory about seeing Jacob at the Mercury and fears he’s been kidnapped and is being held on a vacant ship. The threesome jump into action to save Jacob’s life. Tory must rescue Jacob before her father returns from and gold fields and her mother arrives from Providence.

Avi leaves the story open-ended. There is so much more he could write about Tory and her friends. After all, San Francisco exists as a tent city. I hope there is a sequel. This book belongs in every school library. Verdict: This book is a winner!

Avi is one of the most celebrated authors writing for children today. He has written published over 70 books. Among his most popular books are Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, the Poppy books, Midnight Magic, The Fighting Ground and the City of Orphans. having received two Boston-Globe – Horn Book Awards, a Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, a Christopher Award, a Newbery Medal, and two Newbery Honors. He lives in Colorado.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided fee by the publisher in exchange for a review.