cover image Wildfire


Rodman Philbrick. Blue Sky, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-3382-6690-0

In this high-octane adventure, Sam Castine, 12, is trapped in a Maine wildfire after he foolishly leaves the safety of his camp’s evacuation buses and dashes back to retrieve his forgotten phone. When a wall of fire blocks his return, he’s forced to flee farther into the wilderness to stay ahead of the blaze. Relying on skills taught to him by his late father, who died in Afghanistan, Sam is driven by his will to survive and reconnect with his mother, who is in rehab for an opioid addiction. By chance, Sam’s path crosses with Delphy Pappas, 14, also fighting to escape the wildfire, and the two join forces to stay alive. Newbery Honoree Philbrick wastes no time in plunging the protagonist into danger, launching into an escapade filled with descriptions that feel immediate and tangible, powerfully conveying the destructive and terrifying reality of an uncontrollable wildfire. Though Sam and Delphy’s repeatedly foiled escape efforts can feel slightly repetitious, multiple dead ends also clarify the impossibility of their situation. Both thrilling and instructive, this tale of friendship amid deadly flames will captivate readers. Ages 8–12. [em](Sept.) [/em]