image map

[Publishers Weekly / February 1, 1993]

The Year of Fire by Teddy Jam, illustrated by Ian Wallace. McElderry, $15.95 (40p) ISBN 0689-50566-3

In this copiously illustrated, large format chapter book, a girl is on her annual visit to the country to help her grandfather make maple syrup. Gazing into the flames below the pan of boiling sap, the girl asks the kind man if he has ever seen a fire bigger than this, which inspires him to recount the vivid tale of a spectacular blaze that swept through the countryside in 1919, destroying an entire forest and a neighbor's house and fields. Jam's storytelling skills bring the reader to the edge of the burning woods: "The fire was growing before our eyes, a wall of flame shooting up into the sky, trees exploding in great showers of sparks, so loud you could hear them right across the valley." Varying in size from small panels to two-page spreads, Wallace's (Morgan the Magnificent) intricate, pen-and-ink and watercolor pictures ably convey the immense power of the raging fire – as well as the strong bond between the girl and her grandfather. The artist's subdued palette echoes the old-fashioned tone of the story – a narrative that effectively preserves the oral tradition of stories handed on from one generation to another. Ages 6-10.

Copyright © Ian Wallace