Flash Point by Sneed B. Collard III | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
Flash Point

Flash Point

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by Sneed B. Collard III

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The town of Heartwood, Montana, is burning out of control. Stoked by the very real flames from nearby wildfires, long-standing, smoldering disputes over forestry policies have been reignited, pitting out-of-work local residents against environmentalists and state wildlife managers. At the center of the heated dispute is high school sophomore Luther Wright. Luther used


The town of Heartwood, Montana, is burning out of control. Stoked by the very real flames from nearby wildfires, long-standing, smoldering disputes over forestry policies have been reignited, pitting out-of-work local residents against environmentalists and state wildlife managers. At the center of the heated dispute is high school sophomore Luther Wright. Luther used to be just like all his friends, playing football and partying every chance he got. But not anymore. Now he spends his time helping Kay, the local veterinarian, rehabilitate injured raptors and learning the art of falconry. Against the backdrop of Montana's worst wildfire season in years, Luther begins questioning many of the community's basic precepts, and in doing so faces alienation not only from his friends, but also from his own family. He finds a kindred spirit in Alex, a new girl at his school who is also "on the outside" socially. But when someone starts shooting Kay's birds and suspicious fires start breaking out, Luther and Alex are drawn into a situation far more dangerous than either of them could ever have imagined. Award-winning author Sneed B. Collard III offers readers an affecting, realistic portrait of a teenage boy who learns to navigate a difficult course between standing up for what he believes in and maintaining loyalty to his family and the friends and neighbors he has known much of his life. Collard also provides a balanced look at a very real problem by illustrating the difficulties of balancing competing environmental and economic interests.

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.
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).
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.
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)

Product Details

Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
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733 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Sneed B. Collard III is a biologist, world traveler, speaker, and author of more than forty books for young people, including Flash Point, Dog Sense, and Double Eagle. Collard holds degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Montana.

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