Paradise On Fire

Publisher: Orion

When Addy sets out on an organised adventure holiday into the forests of North America with a group of other Black children from inner-city New York, it brings back tragic memories of the fire that killed her father and mother. Then a real fire breaks out and as the forest around them goes up in flames, separating them from any help, Addy has to use her map-reading skills to lead the others through terrible danger to safety.

In this dramatic and exciting story, Addy discovers she loves the wilderness and feels it is her natural home. She reaches her potential as a leader, and learns that survival isn’t just about her own safety, but about rescuing others too. There is also a message about climate change, further explored in the author’s note at the end of the book.

It would have been nice to see indigenous American characters included in the story, or perhaps a reference to indigenous American knowledge and wisdom regarding climate change and nature among Addy’s experience of the wilderness. Nevertheless, Paradise on Fire is a lyrical and important story which moves swiftly and builds relatable characters in very few words.

The story is richly illustrated with maps, which add interest and will help children not familiar with North American geography.

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