FICTION

Wildfire: When Trees Explode

Blue Sky Pr/Scholastic/. Sept. 2019. 208p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338266900.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5-7–An intense tale of survival and action. As Camp Wabanaski evacuates campers from threatening forest fires, Sam Castine separates from his group to run back for his cell phone. It is his primary link of communication to his mother as she works through a rehabilitation program for an addiction to opioids from a severe neck injury. Within minutes, the growing smoke and fire separate him from the evacuation bus, and he is forced to run in the opposite direction. Along the way, Sam calls upon wilderness skills his late father taught him and partners with a young girl named Delphy, who has also strayed away from her camp. The two ramble along in a Jeep on an old logging trail in hopes of reaching a main road. Philbrick’s fast-paced plot is filled with vivid details and twists that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Delphy and Sam face everything from the harsh elements of Maine’s forest to losing their direction on the trail, and encountering a group of arsonists who have increased the fire coverage in the region. Subplots include Sam’s grief for his father and the uncertainty he faces over his mother’s recovery.
VERDICT While the broad plot shines a light on the growing national issue of wildfires and our role in their prevention, Philbrick crafts a story that leaves readers open to discussion on many topics. A must-have for all upper elementary/middle grade libraries.

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