CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 5 . . . .October 27, 2006
Fire! The Renewal of a Forest.
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $21.95.
Fire ecology-Juvenile literature.
Forest fires-Juvenile literature.
Forest ecology-Juvenile literature.
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Reesa Cohen.
Uncomplicated prose combine with stunning, dramatic illustrations to explore the life cycle of a forest in an information storybook. Godkin focuses on a devastating fire and all its implications on the wildlife as well as future growth and renewal.
Readers are first introduced to a serene forest on a hot summer's day. However, the descriptive text, which appeals to all the senses, foreshadows the trouble to come.
In the clearings the small plants, which had once been green and juicy, had shriveled and dried. They were now brown and crisp.
A bolt of lightening shatters the calm and shoots down a tall tree. The resulting sparks sets the forest ablaze for many days. But even with the wild fire's destructive forces, there is hope with the rain that falls and the shoots which poke through the soil.
Godkin has once again successfully entered the realm of nature and its awesome power as she did in When the Giant Stirred: Legend of a Volcanic Island. In this offering, fire plays a crucial ecological role as the author explains the effects of forest fires and how nature takes its course and once again thrives.
The vivid paintings show the forest in all its stages of growth, destruction, and rebirth. The wonderful perspectives and interesting brush strokes capture the lush quality of the forest and the hot intensity and drama of a fire. The astonishing double page spread of the rainfall brilliantly echoes the text.
Raindrops hissed and spattered on the hot embers.
And the picture of "charred" timber will surely leave a lasting impression on readers. Many pages feature an encircled close-up drawing of the different life inhabiting the forest.
Instead of an index and a glossary, Godkin ends the book with two double page spreads, featuring additional information and captions. They include "View of a Wilderness Forest" and "How Life Returns to a Forest After a Fire." An Author's Note is also included with comments on the role of forest fires and several web sites for further information.
Fire! is everything a non-fiction picture book should be. It is written in a clear accessible text; it is informative, yet intriguing and sheds light on the important concept of forest ecology; it is easily shared, with appealing illustrations and an attractive format.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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