Title: We Will Live in This Forest Again
Author & Illustrator: Gianna Marino
Publisher: Neal Porter Books, 2020
Genre: narrative nonfiction
Themes: forest, wildfires, northern California, forest animals, regrowth, restoration, ecology
We have always lived in this forest. Its trees and shrubs were filled with birdsong and the rustle of animals.
When wildfires consume their forest home, the animals must flee–but as the flames subside, they return and look to new beginnings . . .
At first, they didn’t notice the spark flying above the dry treetops.
But then the smoke blew from the north, and the flames began to grow. . .
As a Northern California resident, Gianna Marino witnessed the 2017 Sonoma wildfire firsthand when it came within inches of destroying her property. Her personal experience is palpably reflected through her portrayal of dignified animal silhouettes and stark, ashen landscapes in the wake of the flames. The book closes with an essay describing her encounter with the wildfire. Accessible information on wildfires, including a list of recommendations for further reading, is also included.
Why I like this book:
I have interviewed Gianna and reviewed other books she has created. She has a distinctive, beautiful art style and as a new norther California resident who experienced my first forest fires/smoke last summer here, I so appreciate the hopeful ecological message of We Will Live in This Forest Again. This story of recovery and resilience will comfort young readers concerned about forest fires, reassuring them that in time new growth will sprout and, like the wildlife in the story, we can rebuild. If you have a soft spot for the fragile ecology of the forest and other ecosystems, you will connect immediately with this book, and gain appreciation for what it takes to protect the natural world.
Gianna’s lush watercolor illustrations explore the bittersweet cycle of burning and rebirth in the forest, following a lone deer as it sees its only home scorched by flame–and later, returns to find new plants already sprouting, the promise of a day when the air will be filled with birdsong once again.
This is a story full of hope and love for our natural world, which we share with some many other animals.
Great back matter on the 2017 California fires, with extra wildfire facts, and further reading recommendations.
MORE WILDFIRE INFO.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
I love the title of this book because it contains a powerful energy of hope and the illustrations are haunting and beautiful. It’s good to see ecological stories like this available for children.
I don’t live around wildfires, but it made me think about how WPAFB burns the prairie at the end of the season — how stark and charred it looks. But every spring it comes back even more brilliant. The prairie sits at the end of the runway, where the Wright Brothers flew and perfected their aircraft.
Right, it is actually fascinating because fires are also a completely natural healing force in nature.
Wow! This is one I need to read. That illustration of the animals in smoke is quite moving. And I’m so glad it’s a hope-filled book as wildfires can be so scary. Thanks for spotlighting this one, Joanna.
We need that hope if we live here, right? I know we haven’t really had enough rain yet this season!
This would be a great choice to donate to schools in my area. Thanks for the introduction, Joanna.
Great idea. There are several states in the west especially where this would be a great addition to classroom libraries.
This sounds like an amazing story. Reminds me very much of the Australian wild fires they have. We saw a lot about the kangaroos and koala’s that were injured, burnt and left stressed by it all. Great to have books like this to help kids understand the effects it can have on the environment and wildlife. Great share Joanna.
So happy to see a picture book exploring the California wildfires that’s filled with hope. The addition of an Author’s Note explaining her experience with the wildfires is so helpful, too. Thanks for sharing!