Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Demarest's passion for firefighting ignited two terrific books (Firefighters A to Z; Smokejumpers One to Ten); now he makes it three with this compellingly detailed salute to the highly specialized ground crews called "Hotshots." Following a fire from its inception (sparks from a train land in a dry field) to its defeat through a tactic called "backburning" (in which the hotshot crews actually set small fires intended to rob the oncoming inferno of more fuel), Demarest's journalistic framings and staccato couplets conjure all the drama and urgency of a breaking news report. "Police drive through streets, calling `Evacuate!'/ For some people's homes, it is just much too late./ Chaparral explodes and jumps a side street./ A wood-shingled roof torches off from the heat." The pastel illustrations, ablaze in oranges and yellows, explode from the spreads with a sense of heat and growing danger as the hotshots work bravely and diligently to thwart the inferno's power. In a series of extraordinary spreads that form the book's climax, Demarest plunges readers into the thick of a hillside's 60-foot flames, which force the hotshots to hug the ground in tent-like "Shake 'n Bake" shelters as a wall of fire literally rolls over them. A brief but informative author's note concludes this exciting and invaluable companion to understanding wildfires and the heroes who battle them. Ages 5-8. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Being on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, where urban sprawl has made us less susceptible to the kinds of fires that decimated many homes and lives in Southern California, it was with great interest that I read Chris L. Demarest's latest book on firefighting, Hotshots! Just released, this timely book is perfect for reading and discussion both by those who survived the fires and those who just saw pictures in newspapers and on television. Mr. Demarest's first two books on firefighting, Firefighters A to Z and Smokejumpers One to Ten gave detailed description and tons of firefighting vocabulary; this one shows firefighting from the hotshots viewpoint�hotshots being "the elite ground firefighting corps." The blaze is covered from the first spark�"Sparks from a train ignite a field baked for days. Then winds whip it into a fast-running blaze." "Police drive through streets, calling EVACUATE. For some people's homes, it is just much too late." The final words say, "Time to reload tools and grab a quick bite, for the hotshots know there's more fire to fight." The author makes you feel as if you are there with the hotshots. I did find some of the text and rhymes a bit clunky, for example, "A skycrane swoops down to drop its water load, but fire jumps effortlessly over the road." But beautiful illustrations, attention to the details of firefighting (the author is a volunteer firefighter), and an educational opening illustration of a fully-outfitted hotshot make this book interesting and accessible to all ages. 2003, Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, Ages 5 to 8.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-An outstanding informational source that is highly appealing in its presentation. The brief rhyming text, similar to that in Demarest's Firefighters A to Z (2000) and Smokejumpers One to Ten (2002, both McElderry), tells the story of the "hotshots" called to put out a brushfire that is threatening to destroy a mountainside neighborhood. The short, uncomplicated text belies the author's knowledge of his subject. Despite an occasional forced rhyme, each word has been carefully chosen. While the text is simple enough for young listeners, it includes keywords that impart factual material. An author's note includes additional information and explanations of terminology. Borderless, double-page pastel illustrations effectively show the progression of events, from the accidental ignition of dried grass and deployment of brush rigs and trucks until moments after the fire has been extinguished. The vivid color and smudgy look of the pastel crayon artwork perfectly re-create the wildly raging fire and the hotshots. Every library will want to have this book on hand.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Demarest adds another gem to his lambent survey of modern firefighting with this mesmerizing look at the men and women who are specially trained and equipped to fight wildfires. In big, eye-filling scenes he shows a fire's genesis in sparks thrown off by a passing train, then its swift passage across fields and down upon a housing development as the "Hotshot" teams work frantically to contain it. With broad, dramatic brushwork, he not only captures the fire's breathtaking speed and fury, but depicts the firefighters' specific gear and techniques as they quickly create a backburn, then drop beneath collapsible shelters dubbed "Shake-n-bakes" as the wind-driven blaze roars up. The author captions each scene with a line or two of rhymed text, supplies additional details at the end, and closes with lists of recommended books, films, and Web sites. This one fire finally brought under control, the Hotshots are last seen readying themselves to take on the next-not as larger-than-life, tall-tale heroes, but as a team of steady professionals in a very dangerous line of work. Altogether admirable. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-8)
Read an Excerpt
Sparks from a train ignite
a field baked for days.
Then winds whip it into
a fast-running blaze.
With fire now spreading out of
control, the hotshots are called.
They're ready to roll.
What are hotshots?
They are an elite ground fire-fighting corps of men and women highly trained to understand the scientific nature of fire in order to go deep into the heart of a wildfire, beyond the reach of hose lines, to limit the destruction of land and wildlife.
As more homes are being built into the natural landscape, the role of the hotshot in fighting fire has become increasingly important. With stunning pictures and an action-packed text, fine artist and volunteer firefighter Chris L. Demarest here captures the spirit of the dedicated hotshots and the real-life drama of the dangerous work they must do every day.