Sunday, October 3, 2021

Review: Wildfire! by Ashley Wolff


by Ashley Wolff
Beach Lane Books
Picture Book
40 page
ages 4 to 8


With stunning, cinematic art, this fact-based picture book takes readers into the heart of a forest fire and shows how animals survive, how heroic first responders curb the flames, and how life gradually returns to the forest.

There is a flash. Then a crack. Bluejay spreads the news: “Firefirefire in the forest!”

There’s a wildfire on Spruce Mountain! High up in the Evergreen Tower, dispatcher Maria sees it, too. She calls on expert teams of pilots, smokejumpers, and firefighters to battle the blaze. Meanwhile, the animals of the forest, from bears to deer to turtles, take shelter from the smoke and flames.

Featuring detailed end matter about forest fires and firefighting techniques and tools, this timely picture book is perfect for anyone interested in firefighting and protecting our natural spaces.



 Nature's reaction to forest fires flows smoothly along firefighters' determined efforts, showing the awe and respect both sides deserve.

A fire has broken out in the forest. While the various animals follow their survival instincts to protect themselves as best they can, firefighters head out into the trees and battle the dangerous flames with never-ending determination.

Written with a poetic feel, these pages raise awareness to the impact forest fires have on the wildlife and the efforts firefighters go through to stop the flames. The author allows the tale to dance between nature and the firefighters, masterfully illustrating how both sides deal with the situation in their own ways, simultaneously. 

The book pays homage to firefighters and makes it clear that their work is dangerous and that their efforts deserve the upmost respect. While raising this awareness, the author also keeps the entire atmosphere from growing too tense for the intended age group. Various creatures of the forest are presented, and young listeners learn in a short phrase or two, how each species deals with the approaching flames. For example, the bear brings its cubs into the middle of the pond/river. It's never done with hectic but with a calmness, which balances out the angst. In these scenes, even the flames are kept out of the forefront of the picture, making sure the tension is balanced out.

The illustrations are lovely and bring across each scene clearly and with care. Even in the more dangerous scenes with the firefighters, these show the danger but never let it go overboard for the age group. This makes the illustrations as informative as the text and give something young listeners can explore on their own, as well.

The ending leaves a positive atmosphere. On the very last pages, there is a glossary and several more bits of information for those, who want to delve deeper into the topic.

And here she is...

Ashley Wolff lives in Vermont and is the author and illustrator of more than sixty books for children, including the modern classic Miss Bindergarten series by Joseph Slate, and her own celebrated Only the Cat Saw; Where, Oh Where, Is Baby Bear?; Baby Bear Counts One; and Baby Bear Sees Blue. Visit her at

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