Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fire Birds by Sneed B. Collard III

For years Smokey the Bear warned people about the problems associated with forest fires. But what if Smokey’s message was not quite correct? Collard researches the truth by interviewing scientists on how fires in wild areas are actually healthy happenings. Burned forests are the only home for many bird species, like the Black-backed Woodpecker. When natural forest fires are suppressed or burned areas are unwisely logged, these birds lose their homes, food, and protection. But birds are not the only species benefiting from a burned forest: certain shrubs only sprout after a fire, the fire’s ash fertilizes the ground, and smaller trees gain more sunshine when dead trees are burned away. Today, these positive findings are finally gaining national attention.

Fire Birds is an insightful resource to spread the word about healthy forest fires. Collard defines the two fire types: one that can threaten people—which must be suppressed, and the other in wild forests that need fire to progress. Collard’s beautifully detailed photographs promote his message and highlight the birds and plants benefitting from a burned forest. The chapters are short, easy to understand, and wonderfully narrative. The book has a glossary in the back to help young readers with unfamiliar terms related to this subject. Collard also challenges readers to visit burned forests to see all the animals and plants living in their new environment. A great non-fiction read for ages 8 and up.

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