Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Fire! The Renewal of a forest
By Celia Godkin
Published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Ages : 4-8
Fire! is the story of a forest. One that is hot and dry and quite scorched, thanks to many days of no rainfall. It is the story of one afternoon, when storm clouds gather, a hot wind begins to blow, and lightning snaps and crackles, but without any sign of rain. And all at once, a bolt of lighting shoots from the sky, hits a tall tree beside a clearing and sets it into flames, which soon spreads to the clearing. And thus it begins. A forest fire, sending all the birds and animals scurrying away to safety, burning many trees, raging for many days. Until one day, when the storm clouds gather again, this time pouring down, and soaking the burning forest. And slowly, the fire dies down and out.
The landscape is barren and desolate, and looks like nothing would ever grow there again. But that is not true. Within a week, little green shoots poke through the soil, as a sign of hope. Some plants grow from underground shoots, some from seeds that survived the heat of the fire, and others from the seeds blown in by the wind. Flowers grow, and some of the animals come back to nibble at the vegetation, claiming it once again, as home. Some plants grow taller than the rest and climb towards the sky, their branches filling out with leaves. In time they become the trees of the new forest, and soon, the new forest begins to look just like the old forest. And the cycle of life continues.
In effect, it is the story of life itself, told with a character firmly in place, a situation that challenges the very existence of that character and its natural triumph over adversity through the progression of time, and its own indomitable will to be. It is a story where young minds can learn a lot about the character of the forest and about lots of other little characters in the form of little blurb insets within each page, introducing the deer mouse, the cedar waxwing, snowshoe hare, admiral butterfly and many more. It is a science lesson all over, told with a keen life interest. The same blurb insets in later pages, show how tiny seedlings appear, from where they grow and what they grow into.
It is a wonderful exploratory adventure into the element of fire and one of the ways in which it manifests itself, and that when it leads to a forest fire, it is actually the natural process by which life has a chance to renew itself. In essence it ties in all the 5 central characters....how the earth catches fire one day, and the air spreads it around, until the water comes down from the sky and cools it off. Either ways, it makes for a great story, doesn't it? :)