When wildfires rage in a California forest, animals flee; they can return when spring brings new growth.
Inspired by her own experiences in the 2017 fires in California, Marino tells this story in the nostalgic but also hopeful voice of one of the forest-dwellers, a deer. The approaching fire comes as a surprise. “I used to think this forest would always be our home,” the narrator says. The gentle foreshadowing works even for her young audience. An unnoticed spark becomes flames. The animals flee; even the mountain lion is not as fierce as the fire. The exhausted animals reach safety, clean themselves, and wait. Creatures that might not normally get along have banded together. Time passes. Eventually there are new leaves and shoots. The forest is returning, and so can they. In Marino’s poetic text the leaves and branches that “crinkled and crunched” in the fall nicely contrast with the new growth that “will be soft and quiet’ underfoot. In her illustrations, these animals are basically silhouettes with dark eyes and bodies textured by color and shadow. These double-page spreads have the translucence of watercolors and constantly change colors. The yellows and greens of the forest are overtaken by fiery reds and oranges, which turn to sooty gray, then warm brown with, finally, shoots of green. The deer is hopeful. “In time, our forest will return.”
Reassurance about the resilience of the natural world.(author’s note, facts, further information) (Picture book. 3-7)