Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire (Arlo Finch #1)

by John August (Author)

Reading Level: 6th − 7th Grade
Series: Arlo Finch

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire is the first book in a spellbinding fantasy adventure series by screenwriter John August.

Some trails lead to magic. Some lead to danger.

As Arlo looked around, the walls of his room began to vanish, revealing a moonlit forest. Only his bed remained, and the frame of his window, through which he saw the girl. The world on her side of the glass was sparkling with silver and gold, like a palace made of autumn leaves.

She looked off to her right. Someone was coming. Her words came in an urgent whisper: "If I can see you, they can see you . . . Be careful, Arlo Finch."

Arlo Finch thought becoming a Ranger meant learning wilderness skills, like camping and knots. But upon arriving in the tiny town of Pine Mountain, Colorado, Arlo soon learns there's so much more. His new friends Indra and Wu teach him how to harness the wild magic seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods--a parallel realm of wonder and danger.

First he must master the basics, including snaplights, thunderclaps and identifying supernatural creatures. But Arlo Finch is no ordinary Ranger, and this is no ordinary time. A dark and ancient force is sending threats into the real world . . . our world.Through perilous adventures and close calls, Arlo is awakened to his unique destiny--but the obstacles he faces will test the foundations of the Ranger's Vow: loyalty, bravery, kindness, and truth.A Junior Library Guild selection

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Kirkus Reviews

Atmospheric at best, formulaic at worst. 


Accomplished screenwriter August artfully thrusts readers into a whole new world, right alongside Arlo . . . This is just the first volume in a new series, so readers won't have to wait long to plunge back into the mysterious Long Woods.

School Library Journal

Arlo Finch's family has returned to his mother's hometown of Pine Mountain, CO, to try to regain some normalcy after a stressful few years. But nothing is normal in Pine Mountain. From the house they live in that comes complete with an eccentric taxidermist uncle to the magical creatures that have taken special notice of Arlo, adventure and mystery are everywhere. To make new friends, 12-year-old Arlo joins the Rangers, a scoutlike group, and finds that they don't just learn to build fires—they learn some magic craft and about creatures from other realms. As Arlo prepares for his first test to advance a rank, he has no idea he and his friends' lives will be at stake. Much like other popular series such as "Percy Jackson," magic and realism are woven together. The first novel is clearly laying the groundwork for future installments, and it is very fertile ground. Enough questions are answered to provide satisfaction, but unanswered questions and mysteries that remain. VERDICT An exciting fantasy novel grounded in reality with a strong emphasis on friendships and great characters. This new series will appeal to fans of mystery and adventure as well as reluctant readers.—Elizabeth Nicolai, Anchorage Public Library, AK

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"The mysteries—from what makes Arlo a target to why a girl who vanished years ago has reappeared to him and only him—become increasingly more compelling as more pieces are revealed . . . Readers will find Arlo relatable, especially if they've ever struggled to fit in themselves." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A thrilling adventure full of magic and wonder. John August is a master storyteller." —Ransom Riggs, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

"A fast, fun, and fearless tale. Arlo's adventures feel both completely real and entirely magical. I loved it!" —Ally Condie, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Matched and Summerlost

"A masterful mix of mystery and adventure, set in a supernatural scouting troop. Reading this book made me wish I hadn't dropped out of Cub Scouts." —Geoff Rodkey, New York Times-bestselling author of the Tapper Twins series

John August

Born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, John August earned a degree in journalism from Drake University and an MFA in film from USC. As a screenwriter, his credits include Big Fish, Charlie's Angels, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride and Frankenweenie. He is the author of the Arlo Finch series.

In addition to his film career, he hosts a popular weekly podcast, Scriptnotes, with Craig Mazin. He also created the Writer Emergency Pack, an educational storytelling tool that was distributed to over 2,000 classrooms in partnership with non-profit literacy groups like 826LA and NaNoWriMo. John and his family live in Los Angeles.

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Roaring Brook Press
Publication date
January 20, 2019
Arlo Finch
BISAC categories
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV001000 - Juvenile Fiction | Action & Adventure
Library of Congress categories
Fantasy fiction
Quests (Expeditions)
Good and evil
Scouting (Youth activity)
Forest reserves

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