Flash Point

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Flash Point

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carolyn Reeder
Like last year's Dog Sense, Collard's second novel is set in his home state of Montana. The main character in Flash Point is Luther Wright, a high school student who is alienated from his classmates and burdened by a secret that has changed his life. Last year he was a "party animal" and played on the football team, but now he spends his time working for Kay, a veterinarian who also rehabilitates hawks and other raptors. No one—especially Luther's former teammates, who feel abandoned—can understand why he has chosen to help this outsider instead of playing football. No one, that is, except the new girl, Alex. Until Luther met her, he'd kept unpopular opinions to himself, and he is impressed that Alex speaks her mind. After some soul-searching, he joins her in trying to increase their fellow students' understanding of the need for good forestry practices and wildlife conservation. The title Flash Point is an apt one because of the long-burning wildfire that provides a backdrop to the action and causes the tension that's building between local environmentalists and loggers over U.S. Forest Service policies. The reader will also sense an approaching flash point as hostility increases between Luther and his one-time teammate Warren, now an enemy who is prone to violence. Collard seems to have a good feel for the conflicts teenagers face in dealing with peers and family members. And, of course, he writes with authority about the ferment between longtime residents of the area and newcomers over environmental issues as well as about raptors in general and falconry in particular. His background as a scientist and nonfiction writer stands him in good stead when heturns his hand to fiction.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
This solid story set in Montana should appeal to readers interested in ecological themes such as managing fires in forests and protecting raptors. Luther used to be an ordinary high school kid, playing football and getting through classes until something happened when he and his teammates partied too hard—we don't know the details until far into the story. Luther quit playing football, alienated his former friends, and began working for a woman vet who takes in wounded raptors, including owls, hawks, and falcons, until they are able to be released once they heal. The story begins with a new school year, an encroaching forest fire, a new girl in town (Alex), and ever-angry townspeople who can no longer make a living working for lumber companies. Luther's stepfather is one of the disgruntled, but he does make a living as a firefighter. There are rumors swirling that some fires are started by arsonists interested in making money as firefighters—one of the plot lines is Luther's fear that his stepfather is that desperate. Alex and Luther seem to be the only high school students interested in learning more about managing forests, but because they even dare to question the views of most of the people in town—who believe the government and conservation policies are responsible for shutting down the lumber industry—they are considered pariahs. When the fire gets out of control and sweeps through the town, endangering the birds Luther takes care of and the horses Alex rides, the suspense builds as the two do their best for the animals they love. Collard is a biologist who knows the forestry management arguments, and through his characters the issues are thoroughly examined.Details of training falcons will fascinate many readers.
VOYA - Lucy Schall
In this issue-driven coming-of-age story, Luther, a high school sophomore in a dying and literally burning logging town, quits the football team and spends his time in a bird sanctuary. He suffers social isolation and suspects his stepfather of setting the fires in the surrounding area. Alex, a new student whose father works for Fish and Wildlife, encourages him to act on his conservation beliefs and helps him to start an environmental club to disseminate accurate information. Luther's mother also supports his choices, but Luther's stepfather sees him as threatening their livelihood and destroying any chance that Luther might have to leave town. Luther defies his stepfather and a bullying former teammate, Warren Juddson. After almost losing his life saving the bird sanctuary from fire, Luther reveals to Alex his reason for quitting the team-Luther joined Warren in vandalism and robbery after a football drinking party. Luther confesses his crime to the police and discovers that his stepfather reported the arsonists who were paid by the logging company. He reconciles with his stepfather and makes restitution for his vandalism through his sanctuary job. This novel is a good choice for middle school and junior high readers interested in environmental issues. Collard smoothly weaves information about birds and forests throughout his narrative, but his didactic tone never achieves the excitement, depth or humor of Hoot (Knopf, 2002/VOYA October 2002) or Flush (Knopf, 2005/VOYA October 2005).
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-High school sophomore Luther, an ex-football player, finds himself at odds with his logger stepfather and his peers as forest fires blaze near Heartwood, MT. A hinted-at incident at last season's play-off celebration soured Luther on sports and the party scene and turned former teammate Warren Juddson into an enemy. Now, Luther works for Kay, a vet who rehabilitates raptors, and his interest in the birds has caused his priorities to change. While many residents blame the fires on government policies restricting logging in national forests, Luther believes the issue is more complex. He and new friend-and crush-Alex, daughter of a Fish and Wildlife officer, create the Student Forest Society, and the teens are soon ostracized for their views. Tensions grow when Luther takes Kay's prized falcon out to fly and the bird is shot and killed. Believing Warren is to blame, Luther starts a fight that ends in suspension for both boys. When fire comes to Heartwood, he heroically saves the birds and Kay's house. While he recovers from his injuries, he comes to terms with his guilt over the party incident (vandalism). Luther is a sympathetic, believable character. Information about logging, forest fires, and birds of prey is skillfully integrated. Environmentally minded teens will appreciate this look at current issues within a coming-of-age story.-Laurie Slagenwhite, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Luther Wright begins his sophomore year of high school in Montana, making mysterious references to some event that occurred the year earlier and led him to drop football and partying. Instead, the now-loner gains an intense interest in raptors. Local veterinarian Kay hires him to help her rehabilitate injured raptors, their wounds often caused by ignorant locals. His home life is difficult, with his stepfather increasingly raging at the family because of the forest fires spiraling out of control in this lumber-driven locality. Luther meets new girl Alex, who is also concerned about the fires, their possible causes and how they affect the environment. Facing ridicule, anger and violence, Luther learns to stand up for his beliefs and his beloved birds. The ending is a bit rushed and the heroics of Luther and Alex hard to swallow; however, there is a great deal of information woven into this interesting, well-paced story. Forest fires (good and bad), politics and corporate greed all play into the tale, and Luther is a realistically confused teen. Young teens interested in nature, animals and ecology will probably find much to enjoy. (Fiction. 11-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561453856
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Pages: 214
  • Age range: 12 - 16 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 28, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Holly for TeensReadToo.com

    Luther used to be a football-playing party animal, making bad choices and stealing just to impress his snobby friends from Heartland, Montana. Not anymore, though. <BR/><BR/>Luther now spends all of his time at the bird vet's house, where he cleans poop, feeds the birds, and flies them -- all under the supervision of the owner, Kay. <BR/><BR/>When school bully, Warren Juddson, finds out Luther quit the football team to work with the crazy bird lady, temperatures rise and words fly. When the whole team turns against him and maybe even his step-father, as well, Luther has no other place to turn but to the new girl, Alex. <BR/><BR/>Alex teaches Luther all about the forest fires nearby and how to ride a horse, but when the out-of-control fires get the best of him and his town, he has to choose what to save first: Alex and her belongings, Kay and her bird, his house, or himself. Luther makes a heroic attempt that could change his life forever. <BR/><BR/>This amazing book by Sneed B. Collard III will grab readers with its stunning real-life topic. A great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    Luther used to be a football-playing party animal, making bad choices and stealing just to impress his snobby friends from Heartland, Montana. Not anymore, though. Luther now spends all of his time at the bird vet's house, where he cleans poop, feeds the birds, and flies them -- all under the supervision of the owner, Kay. When school bully, Warren Juddson, finds out Luther quit the football team to work with the crazy bird lady, temperatures rise and words fly. When the whole team turns against him and maybe even his step-father, as well, Luther has no other place to turn but to the new girl, Alex. Alex teaches Luther all about the forest fires nearby and how to ride a horse, but when the out-of-control fires get the best of him and his town, he has to choose what to save first: Alex and her belongings, Kay and her bird, his house, or himself. Luther makes a heroic attempt that could change his life forever. This amazing book by Sneed B. Collard III will grab readers with its stunning real-life topic. A great read! **Reviewed by: Holly

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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