Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Firegirl

Before opening this book to read take a minute looking at the cover art. I don't often talk about book covers for non-picture books, but the cover art for Firegirl by Tony Abbott deserves mention. It is simple, effective, and as you delve farther into the book ... eloquent. The cover is fire engine red with starkly white paper-doll cut outs spread across the front and back. The title, Firegirl, is presented in black font with glowing boarders. Below the title, one of the paper-dolls is charred with only one of the other paper dolls holding its hand.

Firegirl is the story of what happened in one six grade classroom over a period of three weeks. All of the regular suspects are in place; popular kids, quiet kids, class clown, teachers pet, and it is the beginning of the school year. The main character Tom, sums it up this way in the opening paragraphs:

"It wasn't much, really, the whole Jessica Feeney thing. If you look at it, nothing much happened. She was a girl who came into my class after the beginning of the year and was only there for a couple of weeks or so. Stuff did get a little crazy for a while, but it didn't last long, and I think it was mostly in my head anyway. Then she wasn't there anymore." - Firegirl, p.1

Tom does sum up the book in a paragraph. But what is left unsaid is how each child in class reacts to the circumstance. Jessica is a burn victim attending class while undergoing therapy at a local hospital. After several days' worth of rampant speculation and gossip, we learn she was in the car with her mother one afternoon; her mother left the car running while doing an errand and an elderly man hit their car, causing it to burst into flames. Tony Abbott does a masterful job of creating believable reactions from the students in class, the administration and teachers, Tom and his family, and Jessica's family.

Read this book.

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1 comment:

American Che said...

Yes, very sad indeed. Firegirl is an awesome book, and yet during the midst of it, very sad.
~*~American Che~*~