What Was the Great Chicago Fire? – by Janet B. Pascal, illustrated by Tim Foley


 51hfuu7stdl    What Was the Great Chicago Fire? (What Was…?) – by Janet B. Pascal, illustrated by Tim Foley, Grosset and Dunlap, (9780399542381), 2016.

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5:  5

What did you like about the book? This well-written and well-organized account of the one of the most disastrous fires in history starts with the founding and growth of Chicago up to 1871 as well as information about the early history of firefighting. Next, there is a step-by-step description of the perfect storm of mistakes that led to the ferocity of the Great Chicago Fire as well as anecdotes guaranteed to hold readers’ attention – debunking the myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, harrowing incidents of people barely escaping the inferno, and thrilling stories of personal heroism. There are sixteen pages of photos, including a fascinating one of marbles that were fused together by the heat. As with the others in this series, all this is accomplished in just over one hundred pages and using only black-and-white images.

Anything you didn’t like about it?  The photos were all in a clump near the end. It would be preferable to have them placed with the text they illustrated.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Give this to young people in third to sixth grade who like to read about real life disasters.

For additional disastrous fires in America, direct readers to Fighting Fire! by Michael Cooper while readers looking for more in-depth information about the Chicago fire should be directed to Jim Murphy’s Newbery Honor winner, The Great Fire.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries, middle school libraries, and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it?  Shelve with other histories of the Chicago fire in 977.3

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes, if you enjoy narrative non-fiction.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA

Date of review:  11/11/16

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