________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 41. . . .June 25, 2010.


50 Burning Questions: A Sizzling History of Fire. (50 Questions Series).

Tanya Lloyd Kyi. Illustrated by Ross Kinnaird.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2010.
104 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-220-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-221-8 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Fire-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Elizabeth Walker.





What do you picture when you think of fire? A fire truck wailing down the street, a warehouse blaze on the evening news, or a water bomber sweeping over a burning forest? Usually, we see fire as a destructive force that can threaten our homes or even lives. But fire is not only something to fear. Its energy surrounds us all the time, wherever we are, giving us light, heat, and cooked food. If we stopped to think about the flames in our world – fires that have built civilizations, sparked religions, and literally changed the surface of Earth – imagine how many questions we might have.

50 Burning Questions is the first volume in Annick Press' new “50 Questions Series,” and, if this book is anything to go by, the series should be very successful indeed.

     The notion of a history of fire is an intriguing one, and indeed the book proves to be highly entertaining and informative. It uses a question and answer format, interspersed with activities, such as solving an arson case or making tin can lanterns. The author has cleverly divided the information into logical chapters, such as “A Fiery Planet” and “When Fire Goes to Work,” which speak to either the scientific properties of fire or a more social-historical history of mankind’s use of fire. The research is topnotch – Kyi includes a comprehensive bibliography at the end, and she draws on many different aspects of fire, from ancient Korean fire beacons to the chemical makeup of gunpowder, all presented in a distinctively humorous, breezy written style. The book design here is also effective, with yellow, orange and red pages, thematic motifs and Kinnaird’s whimsical cartoons. There is also a detailed index so that readers who want to find out about a specific idea can skip straight to it instead of going through every question and answer.

     Overall, this is the perfect book for inquisitive kids who might like to either read it from cover to cover or just dabble around in topics of interest. This reviewer is eagerly anticipating the next installment in the “50 Questions Series.”

Highly Recommended.

Elizabeth Walker is a teacher-librarian in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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