Fire! The Renewal of a Forest

FireWritten and illustrated by Celia Godkin

It hasn't rained in the forest for many weeks. And in the sunny clearing, everything is dry and scorched. Then, late one afternoon, a hot wind begins to blow and storm clouds gather. But instead of rain, lightning fills the sky and strikes a tall tree beside the clearing. The lightning strike shoots down the tree and ignites the dry vegetation below. In no time, the forest is engulfed in flame. Soon there is nothing left but the charred ruins of the forest, devoid of life.

But the story is not over. Slowly and gradually, life returns to the forest - from the seeds that blow in on the wind and germinate, to the small creatures that have survived in their burrows below the ground. It will take many years; but eventually the forest will return, filled with life once more.


"The larger illustrations are richly colored, surprisingly varied, and often handsome compositions showing the forest in various stages of its cycle. . . Clear, concise writing and vivid artwork make this a fine presentation on the subject." -- Booklist starred review

"Uncomplicated prose combine with stunning, dramatic illustrations to explore the life cycle of a forest in an information storybook. Godkin focuses on a devastating fire and all its implications on the wildlife as well as future growth and renewal. . . Fire! is everything a non-fiction picture book should be. It is written in a clear accessible text; it is informative, yet intriguing and sheds light on the important concept of forest ecology; it is easily shared, with appealing illustrations and an attractive format. Highly Recommended." -- CM Magazine

"The story stands alone for the youngest readers, older students will appreciate the information." -- School Library Journal

"Some informational books for children overwhelm with facts, figures, densely-packed diagrams or pedantic language. Fire! is appealing because of its structure – a meaningful story told in graceful language. Insets of specific mammals and birds affected by the blaze provide readers (or those browsing the beautiful pages) with detailed illustrations. Rated: Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!" -- Resource Links

"It may seem paradoxical to call a book about forest fires gentle, but that’s exactly what Fire! is. Written in simple, short, descriptive sentences, Celia Godkin's prose sounds like poetry. Page spreads that show fire raging through a North American boreal forest assure the reader that 'most of the animals escaped.' This positive approach continues through the second half of the book where, step by step, the rebirth of a forest is described. The text is strongly supported by Godkin's realistic and vivid full-colour illustrations." -- Quill and Quire

"This book demonstrates a scientific point in an enlightening way by showing examples of how wildlife not only survive but thrive after a fire… The artwork is stunning… Godkin marries fine art and non-fiction like no other". -- From the Norma Fleck Award jury

"The book is described as being for grade levels 2-4, but I read it to my 18 month old and she enjoyed it. The illustrations - especially some of those showing animals "hidden" in the forest - get the attention of small children. . . This text does a good job explaining, in a simplified manner, how life returns to a forest after a fire. . . This book would be helpful as an introduction to classroom exercises examining forest fires." -- Science Books & Films

"Fire! Is not your typical science book for kids. It tells a story in short simple stanzas dwarfed by realistic full-page illustrations. . . If parents and children find this book as interesting as I did, don't miss out on another of Celia Godkin's books, the Lady Bug Garden." -- The University of Toronto Bookstore

"Fire! The Renewal of a Forest by Celia Godkin is a beautiful and informative picture book for ages 6 to 9 which explains why wildfires are actually beneficial to forests in the long term, helping to return nutrients back to the soil in the form of mineral-rich ash. Simple text and wonderful illustrations tell the story of a mature forest that is burnt after a lightning strike during hot, dry weather, and then gradually renews itself through natural processes." -- Canadian Teacher Magazine

"Her explanation of how and why a forest fire starts and what happens next is clear and concise. . . Her vivid paintings are rich in colour and detail. Especially useful was two pages at the end of the book with more drawings and information about plants, birds and mammals." -- Victoria Times Colonist

"(Godkin's) explanation of how and why a forest fire starts and what happens next is clear and concise. . . Her vivid paintings are rich in colour and detail. Especially useful were two pages at the end of the book with more drawings and information about plants, birds and mammals." -- Montreal Gazette


2007 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction Honour Book.
“…The artwork is stunning... Godkin marries fine art and nonfiction like no other.”  
(Quote from Norma Fleck Award brochure.)
2008 Silver Birch Express shortlist.
2007 Canadian Science Writers’ Association Science in Society Journalism Award nominee, Youth Book category.
Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice 2007 finalist.
2007 A Bank Street Books Best Children’s Book of the Year selection
2006 Book Link – Best Book for the Classroom Selection.

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