Book Reviews

My Honest Review of Wildfire

As a parent and a teacher, I want to know what my kiddos are reading, but I don’t have time to read every book out there! I hope my honest review of Wildfire by Rodman Philbrick will give you the confidence you need in deciding if the book is right for your child.

Summary

My Honest Review of Wildfire

Sam is spending the summer at camp . . . in the woods. The experience is uneventful until one day, the camp receives word that there is a dangerous wildfire headed their way! As everyone loads into the buses, Sam runs back to grab his phone. When he turns around, the buses are gone, and he finds himself alone . . . in the woods . . . being chased by a ruthless wildfire.

As Sam runs for his life, trying to keep ahead of the fire, he stumbles upon a twelve year old girl, Delphy, who was also left behind. Together, with grit and determination, they do all that they can to stay ahead of the fire and survive. Will they be successful?

Positives

I loved the exciting storyline of survival in this book! Without being overly gruesome or gory, the author spins an exciting tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat, begging the question “Will they survive this time?” as the characters face new challenges at ever turn.

I appreciate how the author creates characters that are the age of the intended audience. Philbrick created both a male and a female character who are friends. In my opinion, this allows more children to become engaged in the story as they relate to the characters and imagine themselves living the story.

The length of this book is perfect. It is not too long where readers to become unengaged, but it is also not too short to where the storyline is underdeveloped. I believe that young readers will find this novel manageable to read as well as exciting!

Discussion Points

When Sam and Delphy meet, Delphy mentions that she was out in the woods by a lake, away from her sports camp, late at night. At first, she doesn’t reveal why she was out there. But soon, Delphy reveals that she met a boy online, and they had been texting. Supposedly, this boy worked at the camp that Sam was attending. The two had decided to meet for the first time out by this lake in the woods. The boy never showed.

Sam’s thoughts, however, reveal that this boy that Delphy thinks she is texting doesn’t exist, meaning she has been cat-fished. However, this portion is not further developed.

Later, while running from the fire, Sam and Delphy need a way to mark their path. Sam doesn’t have any spare clothing or material to use to tie to the trees. Delphy, however, is able to solve the problem by ripping up a bathing suit she was wearing under her clothes. When Sam asks why she was wearing it, she informs him that she had no intention of skinny dipping with the boy she was going to meet.

While none of these points are a part of the major storyline, other than to explain why Delphy was out in the woods, they are brought up in brief conversations or comments between the characters. Because of this, young readers may have some questions about what is happening with the characters that may warrant a discussion

My Honest Review of Wildfire

Overall

In the end, I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters, the storyline was engaging, and the book was just the right length.

However, I will be honest about the fact that I was disappointed in the subtle themes about a twelve year old girl being cat-fished, meeting boys online, and setting up meetings in the woods with a boy she has never met. I felt like the author could have chosen any number of reasons to explain why Delphy ended up in the woods that night.

I felt that this tainted the book a bit in my eyes. The cat-fishing of young children online is a real problem and not something that should be taken lightly. Maybe the author was trying to shed light on a problem. This part of the story, however, was not fully resolved, therefore a readers can’t completely understand the magnitude of Delphy’s actions and how badly it could have ended.

As parents or teachers, just be aware of these mentions in the book and maybe be prepared to have an open and honest conversation about safety online.

I hope that my honest review of Wildfire was helpful! Happy reading!

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