Fire!: My Parents' Story

Fire!: My Parents' Story

by Haas
Describes a nighttime fire in a country house in Vermont in 1948 and the struggle of the residents to save their belongings.


Describes a nighttime fire in a country house in Vermont in 1948 and the struggle of the residents to save their belongings.

Editorial Reviews

Andrea Higbie
The enduring truth is that life goes on. —The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Haas (Beware the Mare) mines family history for this compelling account of a fire that ravaged a Vermont homestead when her mother was a child. In the early hours of a morning in May 1948, "an old white farmhouse dreams in the moonlight." Unbeknownst to its sleeping occupants, a fire has started in the kitchen. Eight-year-old Patty awakens first, coughing from the smoke, and her mother quickly alerts the others in the house. Patty's father; her aunt and uncle, who own the house; a cousin; and a summer boarder and his son. All escape to safety, and the focus shifts to saving the house and barn. With the nearest fire truck 20 miles away, it's up to Patty's family and neighbors to try. Haas's vivid descriptions"a thick snake of smoke," fire that "grows like fast vines"and her use of the present tense lend an edge-of-the-seat immediacy and convey a palpable sense of the fear, confusion and excitement that a house fire brings. In an afterword, Haas notes that because of the fire, farmers in southern Vermont built fire ponds for protection and started local volunteer fire departments. A selection of black-and-white family photographs and juicy tidbits (Patty eventually married the boy who carried her to safety, the son of the summer boarder) make this both a satisfying personal account, as well as a fascinating glimpse of rural life in New England half a century ago.
Children's Literature - Michelle H. Martin
Sandwiched between bright red covers, this novella recounts a story that Jessie Haas and her brother heard many, many times from their parents and grandparents while they were growing up. On May 3, 1948, an electrical problem in the kitchen of the Trevorrow family home in Doverton, Vermont started a fire that engulfed the house and burned nearly all of it to the ground before the firefighters even arrived. As a result of this fire, many farmers in southern Vermont subsequently built fire ponds so that they'd have a better chance of quenching fires on their own properties. The Trevorrow fire also motivated the locals to raise money and recruit volunteer firemen for a Doverton fire station. Among those first two generations of firefighters were Jessie Haas' grandfather and parents. A family tree, present-tense narrative, and black-and-white photographs of all of the key characters in this true story bring the story to life and give readers a glimpse of what rural Vermont life in the late 1940s must have been like. History buffs and those interested in the historical lives of farm families will enjoy this brief snapshot of a misfortune that brought one family together and made them stronger.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Haas offers a true story that took place early one morning in 1948 on a Vermont farm. Fire broke out and eight-year-old Patty, who would become the author's mother, was the first to wake up and alert the rest of the household. Although the family lost everything, including some animals, no people perished. The urgent tone of the story and the short sentences invite young readers to keep turning the pages. In an afterword, they learn that because of the fire, a volunteer fire department was started in the community and farmers built fire ponds all over Vermont. Should youngsters have difficulty keeping the characters straight, a handy family tree is included. Photographs also prove helpful, showing who's who in the story. This book is aimed at a younger audience than Jim Murphy's The Great Fire. However, students who enjoyed that book should find this one interesting as well, especially for its personal glimpse into how quickly one fire can disrupt lives. This story will find an audience especially among children who enjoy reading true disaster stories as well as those who are familiar with Haas's fiction titles. -- Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, Wisconsin

Product Details

Greenwillow Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.49(d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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