Kindling (Fire-Us Series)

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It is the year 2007.

The world has been wiped out by a deadly plague that killed all the adults. Without them, children perished of hunger and disease. No more people, no more electricity, no more civilization — just mildewed houses, overgrown yards, and abandoned cars. Yet on a highway strip outside a small town in Florida, the words "We're Still Here" are painted in letters big enough to be seen from an airplane — although no planes ever ...

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Overview

It is the year 2007.

The world has been wiped out by a deadly plague that killed all the adults. Without them, children perished of hunger and disease. No more people, no more electricity, no more civilization — just mildewed houses, overgrown yards, and abandoned cars. Yet on a highway strip outside a small town in Florida, the words "We're Still Here" are painted in letters big enough to be seen from an airplane — although no planes ever cross the empty sky.

Miraculously, seven children have survived among the ruins. They cannot remember their names, their families, or much else from the Before Time. But they have forged a new family, with new names: Mommy, Hunter, Teacher, Action Figure, Teddy Bear, Baby, and Doll.

They must face each day with enough hope to endure and the strength to realize that there may be nothing out there worth living for. Then one day, a new kid shows up on their doorstep and changes everything. He invites them to join him on a dangerous journey to Washington, to find a man called President if he's still alive — and seek the answers to the mystery at the heart of the Fire-us.

In this first book of the Fire-us Trilogy, Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher weave a compelling post-apocalyptic tale, luring readers into a world that is inventive enough to intrigue, yet true enough to believe.

In 2007, a small band of children have joined together in a Florida town, trying to survive in a world where it seems that all the adults have been killed off by a catastrophic virus.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA
Five years ago, in 2002, most of the world's population died of a deadly virus. Mommy, Hunter, and Teacher, now in their mid-teens, were among the few survivors. Emotionally scarred and not quite sane, they have created a community of sorts in the small Florida town of Lazarus, devoting themselves to caring for the little ones, Teddy Bear, Baby, Action Figure, and Doll. They live frugally on a gradually depleted stock of canned goods, unable to leave because of Mommy's crippling agoraphobia and Hunter's poor eyesight. Then a new boy shows up in town. Apparently a victim of multiple personality disorder, he calls himself Anchorman or sometimes Angerman. He drags with him an old picture frame, from within which he periodically delivers the news, and a department store dummy, Bad Guy, into which he channels all of his hostilities. Angerman's appearance precipitates a crisis, and the children soon find themselves on the road, dodging alligators and panthers, searching for a dimly remembered leader named President in his distant home of Washington. This first volume of the Fire-us trilogy takes the young survivors across Florida to the ruins of Jacksonville. Whether they actually will reach Washington, D.C., is anyone's guess. Armstrong and Butcher's grim, well-written tale moves swiftly and packs an emotional wallop. The various manifestations of posttraumatic stress disorder and monomania that the youth exhibit are somewhat one-dimensional but nonetheless poignant. This powerful and quite successful post
— Michael Levy
KLIATT
To quote KLIATT's March 2002 review of the hardcover edition: Almost five years ago, back in 2002, a terrible virus (Fire-us) swept through the population and swiftly killed almost everyone. The empty streets are now littered with abandoned cars and skeletons. In the midst of this devastation, a small band of teenagers and children have found each other and banded together in a Florida town to help each other survive. Alligators, panthers, and "horrocanes" all threaten the makeshift family, and they have just about picked the town clean. Then a stranger comes to the door: a teenager who called himself Anchorman, prone to long, wild rants that refer to the apocalypse, whom they quickly term Angerman. He intends to travel all the way to Washington, DC to find the President, and the others decide to come too. Danger lurks at every turn as they set off by bike and then by boat. This is a riveting, powerful tale, with underpinnings of religion (the town they're in is called Lazerus). The strange near-future post-apocalypse setting is well imagined, and the atmosphere of constant menace keeps the tension level high. Once readers get into this (it takes a little while to understand what the situation is), they won't want to put it down. It ends on a cliffhanger. I can't wait for the next installment. (Fire-us Trilogy, Book 1). KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, HarperCollins, Eos, 284p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-In this first installment of a post-apocalyptic trilogy, a virus ("fire-us") has wiped out the adult population. After five years on their own in a small Florida town, a small group of children, who believe themselves to be the only survivors, have mostly forgotten their past lives and have taken on roles of the family. Mommy, Teacher, and Hunter provide for Teddy Bear, Action Figure, Baby, and Doll. The arrival of a crazed teenage boy changes the group dynamics and Angerman, as he is dubbed, convinces the youngsters to leave their familiar environs where food is becoming scarce and to go on a quest to Washington, DC, to find the President. Armstrong and Butcher tell a fascinating story of the near future. The character development takes an interesting path; the individuals begin as literal stereotypes, and, as the plot unfolds, the authors reveal the causes and motivations behind the self-assumed roles. The perspectives rotate among the older children, giving gradual clues as to the tragedy that left them on their own. These slow revelations entice readers along and the cliff-hanger ending will leave them interested to see what happens next.-Trish Anderson, Pinkerton Elementary School, Coppell, TX Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Offering a cheerless, if thought-provoking, vision of a post-apocalyptic near-future, Armstrong and Butcher open this projected trilogy by sending a large cast of disturbed or outright deranged young people on a quixotic quest. Five years after the "fire-us," a viral plague, has seemingly wiped out every adult, Teacher, Hunter, Mother, and four younger dependents have lost their original names and all but fragmentary memories of their former lives in the struggle to survive. Enter Angerman, a schizoid teenager who fits right in despite (or because of) his frightening habit of savagely abusing a department-store mannequin he carries with him everywhere. When he announces that he's marching on Washington to demand some Answers, the seven, plus two newly captured feral children, tag along, traveling north past decayed, deserted towns and roadside attractions to a cliffhanger ending on a beach near Jacksonville. Though all of these characters are dysfunctional—and some wouldn't be out of place in Lord of the Flies—this is less a remake of that classic than a riposte. Readers who can see past the cast's array of bizarre quirks and psychic scars will find that the older members of the group are fundamentally decent sorts, more concerned with keeping their younger companions safe and happy than with looking out for themselves. Still, the story is going to have to speed up—and lighten up—to keep readers engaged through two more installments. (Fiction. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064472739
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/6/2003
  • Series: Fire-us , #1
  • Edition description: First EOS Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Teacher sat at her desk in the pink-flower bedroom, working on the lesson for tomorrow's class. As the oldest kid in the family, it was her job to teach the little ones, to make sure they didn't run around like wild animals. But nobody had ever told her how to be a teacher. She had to make it up as she went. Now she was hunched over The Book, searching for inspiration. She had been stuck on page 14 for a while:

TAURUSES: 2002 IS YOUR YEAR! AS NEPTUNE
GOES INTO RETROGRADE, YOU WILL FIND
INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE,
PERSONAL GROWTH -- AND ROMANCE!

EASY ON SINKS. TOUGH ON GERMS.

IMPORTANT SAFETY
INSTRUCTIONS:

When using your telephone unit, these simple safety precautions should always be observed in order to lessen the risk of electrical shock, fire, and injury.

STRONG ENOUGH FOR A MAN.

CLEARLY MADE FOR YOU.

DANGER! CUIDADO!
Teacher picked up a pen and wrote on a blank piece of paper: Tauruses, telephones. And then she crossed out those words and wrote, below them: 2002, germs, fire, man, danger. She swung her feet under her chair, banging against the rungs. The words blurred together in her vision for a moment.With a sharp swipe of her pen, she crossed those words out, too. Teacher shook her head, and then turned her attention back to The Book. She began turning the pages slowly, gingerly. Some of the clippings and photographs she'd pasted in over the last five years were starting to peel away; they crackled as she turned the pages. She made a mental note to herself to take care of that one of these days. She should send Hunter for more glue orpaste -- whatever he could find.A passage on page 104, written in purple ink, caught her attention:

A DREAM

We are at a picnic in the park. There are people everywhere -- Grown-ups, children, babies. And dogs running around. But where is our dog? He must have gone off again, probably chasing a Frisbee somewhere.

First Daddy is making hot dogs on the grill. First Mommy is helping him; they're laughing about something. I look up at them: they're big tall Grown-ups. There is a little girl with us -- who is she? Curly blond hair. She's wearing a pink tutu over her T-shirt and shorts. She keeps begging me to play catch with her.

I finally say yes, and she hugs me. She won't let go. “Let's play catch, okay? Stop hugging me.” But she still won't let go.

Teacher trailed her fingers down the page. The purple words were in her handwriting. The thing was, she didn't remember writing them, couldn't even remember whose dream it was. This was starting to happen more and more often with The Book -- these unfamiliar entries. Often she woke up in the mornings, slumped at her desk, The Book still open under her cheek.

A branch tapped at the window. Traffic on the street. Sprinklers hissing and a radio chattering from next door, a vacuum cleaner droning, the hum of an air conditioner -- sometimes these sounds seemed so real. So real. As if they were really out there, along with Grown-ups and pets and report cards and soccer games.

Teacher closed her eyes and made herself listen to the sounds she really could hear. Downstairs: that was Mommy puttering around the kitchen, cupboard doors banging and shutting. A humid breeze wafted through the open window, carrying with it the sounds of Baby and Doll playing their silly dolly games. “Yes, eat all your beets, all your beets like a good dolly,” came the singsong voices.

Teacher wondered if Teddy Bear was with them. He was always so quiet, half the time you had no idea if he was around. Action Figure was probably off someplace, maybe with Hunter. She hoped they came home soon. It was going to storm. She could smell the dampness in the air that lay on her skin like extra clothes.

She opened her eyes and blinked. She stared at the thing above her desk, the thing she had never liked but had never thought to take down: a painting of a girl riding a horse. It lay against the faded cream wallpaper with the tiny pink roses and the blooming stains of mildew.

Teacher often wondered about the person who had put it there, the person who had lived in this room in the Before Time, before Fire-us. Had the person been a girl? The girl on the horse, even? Were they the same age? And was that girl even alive anymore?

Mommy's voice cut into her thoughts: “Girrr-rrls! Dinner! Come in and wash your hands!”

Teacher sighed. The lessons for tomorrow's class would have to wait until later. It was best to work late at night, anyway, after everyone had gone to bed. There was total silence then, except for the twanging of bullfrogs and the occasional scream of a panther. Once in a while the little kids might cry or babble in their sleep, but that was a good thing -- that was Information.

“Dinner!” Mommy yelled again.

Teacher started to close The Book, and then hesitated. It was open to page 128 -- when had she turned to that page? Bright red words leaped out at her:

LOSE 15 POUNDS IN 15 DAYS
WITH THE AMAZING NEW
PASTA AND PAPAYA DIET!

Teacher frowned. A vague, troubling thought niggled at her. Food. Something about food. Something bad.

Fire-us #1: The Kindling. Copyright © by Jennifer Armstrong. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    I like this book. It is a clue and mystery.The characters are incredible, amazing, talent and they help each other and be there for each other with their problem as a real family. This book is strange,a little scary, emotional. there was a kind lot emotion in the book which it great and it is little a sad beacause there no adult around them to help from the beingnning. I glad there is a grown up at the end so I enjoyed reading this book and find peace too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2007

    Fire Got Me

    Their was a town that Fire-us came to and killed them all but three adults and two children. The three adults found the children and took care of them. The fire-us made them forget their names and who they were. Hunter was one of the adults and he was the person to find all the food. Sometimes he couldn¿t find much food and mommy yield at him and so did teacher. One time Hunter was looking for food and saw two little animals in the bushes. He was scared and ran home as fast as he could. He told Teacher and Mommy that he thought he saw two little people and they told him to find them and bring them home. Hunter was made because he could barley feed the family right now and to feed some more mouths would be impossible. Teacher took one of the children named Baby out on a walk and she herd something in the bushes. Baby was afraid it was an alligator and he grabbed onto Teacher. Teacher walked closer and found two children ran away. She told Mommy and Mommy told her to find them but she didn¿t want to. Teacher and Hunter went out to find the children and Hunter told teacher he wanted to go back onto the road. Teacher was scared and didn¿t want to. The things I like about the Kindling was that they had some adventures finding the two wild children and that when they wanted to find them they couldn¿t and when they were just walking around they found them. Some of the things that I did not like about this book are that it does not have them finding the children. Also I think they should have Hunter going out finding food and most of the time not getting any.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2007

    The Year to die For!

    Something happened, all of the parents died. At least that¿s what they thought. Leaving children to fend for themselves. Eventually almost all of the children died of sickness or starvation. There is still one group of children in a small town of Florida. All of the children were alone and eventually came together to form a family. None of the children remember their old home, their old parents, or even their old names. It has been five years since everything happened. For the first time in five years they here someone knock at the door. The person who is there changes the children¿s life forever. My dislikes about this book are how slow the book is in the beginning even though it picks up after the beginning also I didn¿t think the narrator did a great job about the details in the story. The things I like about the book are, that u cant put the book down after you pick it up, and after u read the first book you will want to read the whole series. I would recommend this book to someone who likes adventure, and action. This book, The kindling, is the first book in the series. There are a total of three books in this trilogy. After you read the first book in the series you will want to, and have to read the second and third book to find out what happens to the seven children, mommy, teddy, action, hunter, baby, dolly, and teacher.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    Kindling (Fire-Us Series)

    I just adored this fenominal book. It was so fascinating and surely a page-turner. Fire-us is DEFINETLEY one of my top three storys.This book is recommended to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2005

    Kindling (Fire-Us Series)

    Oh my gosh...this book is possitively one of my top five books. It's so well-thought up and I just can't explain how WONDERFUL and exciting this book is. Seriously, this book is mesmerizing and just to good to be true. I recomend this book to every single one of you readers out there!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2004

    It was pretty good!

    This was such a good book! I thought it was going 2 be stupid and i grabbed it off the shelf just because the library was closing. It is a crazy book. Literally. Ok. There are 7 kids living in a house together run by Mommy, a maybe 14 year old girl i dont remember exaclty. All of the kids had forgotten their real names. Then on day, This tall kid named Anchorman, shows up at their door dragging a manekin on a tether and talking through a picture frame like a newsreporter.(just in case u havent figured out already, he's crazy). He asks for food and stuff. He plans 2 go 2 Washington to find 'President' and he trys to take Action Figure and a couple of other young children with him. Mommy(who hadn't been outside for 5 years) Goes beserk and runs outside after him crying and junk. they all go to Washington. I won't tell u the rest becuz im really bad at stuff like that. Its very funny. Just read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2003

    Fire Us

    I found the book at my local libaray. The beginning was sort of slow but after that the book got great! I recommend it to almost anyone, can't wait to finish the last book!

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