They Hold the Line cover


Wildfires, Wildlands, and the Firefighters Who Brave Them

By: Dan Paley

Illustrated by: Molly Mendoza

Published: October 3, 2023

Publisher: Chronicle Kids


Dan Paley was inspired to write this book after looking out his own doorstep to a fire on the distant ridge. While trying to reassure his own three sons that the expert firefighters were there to keep them safe, he came up with the idea of this children’s book.

Lightning is the most common natural cause of wildfires, but humans are the most common cause of all wildfires which can include unattended campfires, arson, smoking materials, and even sparks from locomotive wheels on railway tracks. It doesn’t take much for a fire to get started. Dry conditions and high winds can get a fire moving fast which is why a fire lookout’s job is so important. Alerting crews to a smoke report helps them get on the scene sooner rather than later.

They Hold the Line Lookout page

Once the crew arrives, either by parachute or on trucks, the firefighters get right to work cutting away trees and shrubs so the fire can’t crawl. They also create a fireline to limit the fire’s spread. A fire needs heat, oxygen, and fuel to live so if the firefighters can remove one of those components, they can stop a fire. A fireline removes the fuel part to slow the fire down.

Paley gives readers a realistic description of the scene of a wildfire. The illustrations are dramatic and vivid showing the hard work of the firefighters as well as the fear in the eyes of the animals like deer who are running to safety. Mendoza uses lots of red, yellow, and orange mixed with green to convey a realistic image inside a forest fire. Paley gives lots of details including the tools used by the fire crew as well as definitions of fire terms. Sidebars and informational boxes offer readers more information as well. The end of the book includes paragraphs on Fire Ecology, the History of Fire Management, and Who Are Firefighters. A diagram also shares the gear and supplies a firefighter wears and carries.

They Hold the Line Gear and Supplies page

Wildfires seem to be on the news nearly all the time and your child might have questions about them or maybe have been inspired by firefighters in your own community. This tribute to firefighters is an excellent resource for communities and families to read and learn more about wildfires and the people who fight them.

Mike Rice Forest Fire

I’ve shared in previous posts that my cousin’s husband is a National Forest Fire Fighter. He just returned from fighting wildfires in Canada for the second time this summer. He is often gone for weeks at a time, missing out on family events, birthdays, etc. His bravery and willingness to sacrifice his time and safety and to sleep in tents surrounded by fires amazes me.

Dan Paley is an author of fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. Dan is a regular contributor to Ranger Rick magazine. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications. Dan has an undergraduate degree in geography and planning and a graduate degree in science writing. He lives with his family in Irvine, California. Check out his website, HERE.

Molly Mendoza explores the complexities of interpersonal relationships and strives to portray those feelings that we just can’t shake through their work. From fiery anger to the roar of joy, they depict emotions through mark and color. Her practice over time has expanded into comics, editorial work, painting, and murals. When she isn’t telling stories or drawing big tears, she is probably hanging out with her cat, Doodle. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon. Check out her website, 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 make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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