My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books

Fire: Teaching Notes

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Fire, Jackie French (author), Bruce Whatley (illus.), Scholastic Press, 2014.  

Review.

fireHarsh weather conditions are terrifying enough at the best of times, but what about when Mother Nature plays a hand in the wild and extreme that gamble with actual lives?
Award-winning author and Australian Laureate, Jackie French, together with the unequivocally talented illustrator, Bruce Whatley, have joined forces in producing a gripping and stunningly haunting book of adversity; ‘Fire’. Just like their previous book, ‘Flood’; depicting the horrendous Queensland floods in 2011, ‘Fire’ is another efficacious story of courage and strength in the face of a natural disaster.

Throughout the book are amazing, succinct verses that take your breath away with every word. The story begins with a serene outback set amongst golden hills and limp gum tree leaves. Upon turning the page, we are faced with the sudden impact of ferocious orange flames and black smoke, sending a once peaceful cockatoo fleeing for its life. Ramifications advance, affecting the people who live amongst the burning trees as the fire engulfs the land in a thunderous, cackling roar. Pretty soon, whole page spreads bleed with blood-red paint across the atmosphere, and thick grey ash that forces inhabitants to quickly escape the “gulping smoke and singed debris.”
Fire book imageNext, a gut-wrenching image of the oven swallowing houses, trees, the land. What about the aftermath? Loss, grief, disbelief. But the bravery of the firefighters and the safety of loved ones is what is appreciated most. From pain comes the strength of the Australian spirit, as we see the CFA tending to sick animals, and read of those friends who give love and help rebuild a world burnt bare. And eventually, the Earth is reborn once again.  

The final page details Jackie French‘s personal experiences with fighting bushfires and its effects on the land, and how best to manage its dangers. Bruce Whatley also gives appreciation for the courage of those dealing with these terrors, and his account of his illustration process. It is fascinating that he felt the erratic nature of the fire was the hardest thing to capture, because looking at his daubs, flicks, bleeding outlines, reds and yellows amongst their surrounding darks certainly creates intensely evocative and impactful imagery in my eyes.  

‘Fire’ is a powerful, poignant and moving story of real life truths; a devastingly beautiful, poetic rendition of a tough facet of nature. It is a book about life, love, friendship, hope and the human spirit that is so brilliantly captured in its words and images. ‘Fire’ is suited to primary school children, and is deservingly shortlisted in the CBCA’s 2015 Picture Book of the Year awards. Just phenomenal.

This review appeared first on Boomerang Books.

Discussion.

Before reading:

Ask, what do you know about bushfires? How do you think they start?
Have you seen stories about bushfires on the news? Have you or do you know anyone who has experienced this tragedy?
Look at the cover. What can you see? What does it tell us about this bushfire?

During reading:

What do you notice about the language used? What is a metaphor? How is a fire like a black snake?
What do you think the animals do to escape bushfire? How do the people need to act?
Discuss the illustrations in the book. How effective are they in making such a huge impact on the reader?

After reading:

What people / jobs might you see around the bushfire? What would their roles be?
What happened to the land during and after the bushfire? What could we do to help people who lost their homes in a bushfire? What ways can people protect themselves and their homes when living in the bush?

Curriculum Activities.

Literacy / Writing: Bushfire Poems
Objectives: Discuss language used in the book, including rhyming words, metaphors, symbolism. Discuss the order of events.

Acrostic Poem.
You may choose to write your own style of poem. My Prep daughter wrote an acrostic poem with the word BUSHFIRE.

imageBurning
Unsafe
Save yourself
Help animals
Firefighters are brave
I feel sad
Regrowth
Earth re-born.

———————————-

Technology / Craft: Firefighter and Burning Tree Construction.
Objectives: Understand the role and uniform of the CFA volunteers, and the effects of bushfires on the land, people and animals, and strategies to deal with its adversity.

Paper Roll Firefighter
Materials:
Paper roll, coloured paper (red, yellow, black or brown), goggle eyes (optional), pencil, glue, scissors, sticky tape, pipe cleaner.
image
Directions:
1. Cut a strip of yellow paper for the body and attach to the paper roll. Cut a yellow hat / helmet shape and attach to the top of the roll.
image
2. Pierce two holes in each side of the body and thread through the pipe cleaner (cut to size).
3. Decorate the firefighter as desired, with details on the uniform, goggle eyes and face.
image
Paper Roll Burning Tree.
Materials:
Paper roll, choice of tissue paper / coloured paper / streamer, etc in fire colours (red, orange, yellow), sticky tape, scissors.
image
Directions:
1. Cut large piece of tissue paper and stuff into top of paper roll.
2. Cut out flame shapes with another colour and stick in to tissue paper inside roll.
3. Cut out more flames with the third colour and stick into roll.
image
4. Use your firefighter to put out the fire in the tree. We added a little pipe cleaner hose for the firefighter to hold.
image

Science.
Learn about fire facts and its impact on humans, animals and land. Science Kids has some interesting information.

Lessons by Romi Sharp.
My Little Story Corner 2015
www.facebook.com/mylittlestorycorner
All sourced resources have been credited.
These lessons are for personal or classroom use only and are not permitted for commercial use without written consent.

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Author: Romi Sharp

Qualified teacher, reviewer, writer and avid picture book fanatic, constantly immersed in the world of children's literature. Founder of My Little Story Corner and Just Write For Kids.

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