by Rodman Philbrick (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Newbery Honor author Rodman Philbrick sends readers straight into the nightmare of a raging wildfire as 12-year-old Sam is trapped by explosive flames and deadly smoke that threaten to take his life. Can he survive

Flames race toward Sam Castine's summer camp as evacuation buses are loading, but Sam runs back to get his phone. Suddenly, a flash of heat blasts him as pine trees explode. Now a wall of fire separates Sam from his bus, and there's only one thing to do: Run for his life. Run or die.

Lungs burning, Sam's only goal is to keep moving. Drought has made the forest a tinderbox, and Sam struggles to remember survival tricks he learned from his late father. Then, when he least expects it, he encounters Delphy, an older girl who is also lost. Their unlikely friendship grows as they join forces to find civilization.

The pace never slows, and eventually flames surround Sam and Delphy on all sides. A powerful bond is forged that can only grow out of true hardship -- as two true friends beat all odds and outwit one of the deadliest fires ever.At the end of the novel, information about wildfires and useful safety tips add to the reader's understanding of one of the US's most dangerous natural disasters.

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Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review
A boy, a girl, a venerable Jeep, and a massive wildfire sweeping across the mountains of Maine. It’s the perfect setup for a riveting tale of high suspense.

Publishers Weekly

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. (Sept.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 5-7-An intense tale of survival and action. As Camp Wabanaski evacuates campers from threatening forest fires, Sam Castine separates from his group to run back for his cell phone. It is his primary link of communication to his mother as she works through a rehabilitation program for an addiction to opioids from a severe neck injury. Within minutes, the growing smoke and fire separate him from the evacuation bus, and he is forced to run in the opposite direction. Along the way, Sam calls upon wilderness skills his late father taught him and partners with a young girl named Delphy, who has also strayed away from her camp. The two ramble along in a Jeep on an old logging trail in hopes of reaching a main road. Philbrick's fast-paced plot is filled with vivid details and twists that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Delphy and Sam face everything from the harsh elements of Maine's forest to losing their direction on the trail, and encountering a group of arsonists who have increased the fire coverage in the region. Subplots include Sam's grief for his father and the uncertainty he faces over his mother's recovery. VERDICT While the broad plot shines a light on the growing national issue of wildfires and our role in their prevention, Philbrick crafts a story that leaves readers open to discussion on many topics. A must-have for all upper elementary/middle grade libraries.-Monica Cabarcas, Albemarle High School, Charlottesville, VA

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Action lovers will relish every word. With Wildfire — reminiscent of Hatchet and the real-life saga Lost on a Mountain in Maine — Philbrick transforms a raging inferno into an impressively plotted escape story full of heart and soul. — BookPage, starred review

Totally amazing!!

Edit Your Review

This book is so cool and a tiny shiver may sneak down your spine. The end may suprise you. We need a book 2!!!

Rodman Philbrick
Newbery Honor author Rodman Philbrick has written more than a dozen novels for young readers. In 1993, he published his first children's book, Freak the Mighty, which became an instant classic, and was made into a feature film. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg was a 2010 Newbery Honor Book. Philbrick's other acclaimed novels include Max the Mighty, The Young Man and the Sea, The Last Book in the Universe, Zane and the Hurricane, and Wildfire. Philbrick divides his time between Maine and the Florida Keys. You can learn more about him on his website: rodmanphilbrick.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Blue Sky Press (AZ)
Publication date
September 20, 2019
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV005000 - Juvenile Fiction | Boys & Men
JUV001010 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure | Survival Stories
JUV029030 - Juvenile Fiction | Nature & the Natural World | Disasters
Library of Congress categories
Forest fires

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