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.

 

 

 

L

Lies Like Wildfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

Lies Like Wildfire

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Author

Delacorte Press, Fiction, Sep. 7, 2021

Pages: 384

Suitable for ages: 14 – 17 and adults

Themes:  Best friends, Wildfires, California, Lies, Missing persons, Mystery

Book Jacket Synopsis:

We are the monsters — Mo, Luke, Violet, Drummer, and me, Hannah. It’s not what it sounds like, though. Just a nickname from when were little kids participating in a play.

We were at Gap Lake, the deepest in the mountains, and our favorite swimming hole. It was a hot, dry summer afternoon like every other one. And we knew to be careful. When you live in a small California forest town, you know more than you ever want to about wildfires.

But that day there was wind.

We didn’t mean to do it. But we did. And now one of the monsters is missing and everyone’s eyes are on us. This could ruin us. So we did what we had to do. We lied. And we have to keep lying. Telling the truth won’t erase the past.

We can’t crack. Sometimes good people get reckless and do bad things. And if there’s one thing people hate, it’s liars.

Why I liked Lies Like Wildfire:

Wow! What a thrilling read! Jennifer Lynn Alvarez’s debut YA novel is a fast-paced mystery with many unexpected twists and turns — realistic fiction at its best. Set during the fire season in Northern California, readers will be glued to her gripping, haunting and heartbreaking story about what happens when a group of close friends make a big mistake and lie. 

The five main characters in the story are multi-layered and complex. Hannah, the daughter of the local sheriff, narrates the story. She is the group protector. Mo (Maureen) is the group caretaker who makes sure the group has snacks and beverages for their outings. Luke is the reckless one and is on probation for vandalism. Drummer is the flirt. And Violet is the rich outsider, who spends every summer with her grandmother. They’ve just graduated from high school and are looking forward to one last summer together before they start college or jobs.  

The ever-shifting dynamics of this teenage friendship group is well portrayed. Readers will observe it in their growing tension, toxic interactions, love triangles and lies. When one member of the group begs the the group to tell the truth, the other members refuse. The friend suddenly disappears.  (No more spoilers.)

The plot was well-developed and included other subplots — a bear attack and a bout with amnesia. The ending completely surprised me. And I’m still pondering the final chapters. It shocked me and made me think a lot about responsibility.

This novel is a great class discussion book about choices, loyalty, lying and faults. One reckless act ignites a fire that destroys a sizable portion of a community and claims lives along its path. What would you do?  Could you live with yourself knowing lives were lost and neighbors and friends lost everything? How does one move forward with your life in the aftermath of so much destruction? What about integrity?  Would you tell the truth?

Alvarez’s novel is based on her own personal experiences of living through the Tubbs Wildfire in Northern California. She knows the stakes, has relied on the Sheriff’s Nixle messages that alert residents to the location and direction of a fire, the deployment of firefighters, the containment level of a fire, and the orders to evacuate. She knows the emotional and physical toll it can take on residents in the aftermath of a monstrous fire. And she did extensive research into wildfires. Readers will learn a lot about how just one ember from a cigarette can quickly ignite dry pine needles and spread out of control within minutes, and how trained investigators can locate the starting point of a fire. Expert storytelling! 

Note:  For fans of Alvarez’s two middle grade fantasy series, The Guardian Herd and Riders of the Realm,  her realistic novel, Lies Like Wildfire is for teens over 14, young adults and adults. There is language and sex that is not appropriate for younger readers. 

Jennifer Lynn Alvarez earned her BA in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of two middle grade fantasy series, The Guardian Herd and Riders of the Realm, and is the Sonoma County coordinator for SCBWI. Jennifer supports public libraries by volunteering for her county’s library advisory board. Lies Like Wildfire is her debut young adult novel and her first thriller. She lives on a small ranch in Northern California with her family, horses and more than her fair share of pets. Visit her website or on Instagram and Twitter.

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.

*Copy reviewed from a library book.