Review Blog

Sep 18 2020

The bushfire book by Polly Marsden

cover image

Illus. by Chris Nixon. Lothian, 2020. ISBN: 9780734420077.
(Age: 6+) Recommended. Subtitled, How to be aware and prepare, this book comes with a poster which summarises the thrust of the book and usable in a classroom or at home to remind families of the need to be ready.
In line with RFS regulations and in child friendly language, Marsden approaches the fears that children may have when talking about bushfire, an annual event caused by extreme weather in our country and overseas. Everyone in Australia needs to be aware and have a plan in case bushfire is part of their lives one day, but many chose not to do so.
So it is apposite that such a book is available to initiate discussion around awareness. After a few pages in which our fear of bushfires is discussed, several pages of facts are given under the headings fuel, heat and oxygen. Without these a fire cannot exist, and there are some clever people keeping watch. These include, emergency professionals, weather watchers, indigenous rangers and so on. In the past indigenous people used fire as part of their agricultural methods, but today with so many people living close together bushfires are a major issue.
The three steps on the poster are then reiterated, be aware, prepare and share, developing the steps each child can take to allay their fears. It is hoped that with the three steps known and discussed, the readers will have a better knowledge of how fires start, who is there to help and how they should react. At the end of the book is given the Fire Danger Ratings chart and the meaning of the words, Total Fire Ban. If the reader is still feeling anxious then the best thing to do is share their fears with a friend or relative.
The last page is a practical outline of the websites to go to for more information, Red Cross, from which can be downloaded a Bushfire Plan for the family to fill in and refer to, the Bureau of Meteorology for information about the weather and any warnings that might be in place, and WIRES which helps wildlife affected by fire.
A charmingly illustrated book which encourages discussion at home or in the classroom, this book includes lines about mental health and keeping yourself safe from anxiety and fear. Teacher's notes are available.
Themes: Fire, Emergency workers, Volunteers, Indigenous farming, Australia, Climate change.
Fran Knight

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