Smoke Jumpers, High-Tech Gear, Survival Tactics, and the extraordinary Science of Fire

By: Mark Thiessen with Glen Phelan

Published: August 30, 2016

Publisher: National Geographic Kids


Wildfires seem to be all over the nightly news in all parts of our country. Recently, the western part of our country dealt with losses of numerous homes and thousands of acres of forest. There are numerous men and women who risk their lives every day to fight and prevent these wildfires. They can happen with the touch of a spark and destroy memories and livelihoods in seconds.

My cousin’s husband has been a firefighter for the government for several years. He has traveled to swampy areas of the south, to the National Parks in the West. He is also responsible for protecting the Chippewa National Forest in Northern Minnesota. Thiessen explores the training, the science, the daily activities, and the dangers of being a firefighter in our nation’s forests. As a photographer on the front-lines of the fires, he shares photos, stories, and details of fighting the fires and how they can affect the communities they threat to encroach.

Children will learn how fires began and how they quickly get out of hand. Readers will find out how the fires are spotted in the earliest of stages, even in the depth of the forest. The fighters train rigorously to live in the elements and are often away from their families and civilization for 2 weeks at a time. Readers will learn that the fires are fought from the air, on the ground, and even from the middle of the fire.

There is a whole section about the dangers of fire and how to plan if you live in an area prone to fires or to have your family be prepared in a fire happens in your area. Even a simple grass fire can wipe out an entire community.

Thiessen’s photos are dramatic and show the scary side of fires as well as the generosity of communities who come together after a fire. I especially loved his photos of life returning to the forest after a fire.

There is much to learn in every National Geographic Kids book I have ever read and this one doesn’t disappoint. I recommend this for upper elementary through middle school for the reading level and maturity level. It would make an excellent addition to the classroom, especially a science or social studies classroom.

Mark Thiessen – source

A National Geographic staff photographer since 1990, Mark Thiessen has published numerous feature stories and covers for National Geographic magazine and other Society publications on subjects ranging from Peruvian mummies to Egyptian archaeologists to Russian smokejumpers. 

He recently documented film director and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron’s dive to the ocean’s deepest location at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Mark’s photographs for the July 2008 National Geographic cover story “Under Fire: Why the West Is Burning” earned first-place recognition by Pictures of the Year International. Mark also directs the National Geographic photo studio and was featured in “Out There”, a series aired on the National Geographic Channel.

In 1996, Thiessen began a personal photography project on wildland firefighters that took him to the front lines of wildfires every summer. To better understand the world of this little-known subculture, he became a certified wildland firefighter. An award-winning online piece, FireCall, features Thiessen’s photographs and interviews with a veteran wildland firefighter.

To purchase a copy of EXTREME WILDFIRES, click the photo below:

I’ll be linking up this review with Booking Mama and other bloggers on her Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. To see all the posts related to YA and children’s books, click HERE.

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to purchase this book through the above link I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting SincerelyStacie.com. 

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1 Comment

  1. bermudaonion on October 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    This would have been perfect for one of my nephews. He wanted to be a firefighrer when he was young and now he's a volunteer one.

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