We Will Live in This Forest Again

Holiday House. Oct. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823446995.
PreS-Gr 2–Animals enjoy the crunchy leaves of autumn in the forest they have always known, until the sparks, smoke, and flames of a wildfire force them to flee. The story follows a band of animals—a deer, coyote, bear, crow, and mountain lion—as they realize the danger and race to outrun the wildfire. “Hot cinders spun back and forth, across the hills and through the canyons…fire snapped at our fur and feathers and hooves and paws….” Despite the devastation, the animals know that the forest will return and so will they. “The smoke was strong. But we were stronger.” Marino’s impressionistic illustrations are populated solely by animals who are at times grounded by the surrounding forest and at other times depicted against atmospheric colors and images that evoke smoke, wind, flames, and fear. The poetic text is powerful and effective at building tension and then providing hope. The color palette perfectly conjures the before, during, and after of the fire while Marino’s lyrical text from the deer’s view point gives it context. It is a potent combination. The back matter includes an afterword about the 2017 Northern California wildfires, wildfire facts, and further reading.
VERDICT Marino has created a tribute to nature’s reaction to and recovery from wildfires. Sadly, it appears this topic will be current for the foreseeable future. A first purchase for all libraries.

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