September/October 2021 Kids Indie Next List
“Addy suffers from the memory of the house fire that killed her parents, and then a forest fire overwhelms her at wilderness camp. A gripping and satisfying novel for middle-grade readers.”
— Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
BCALA 2021 Best of the Best Book
From award-winning and bestselling author Jewell Parker Rhodes comes a powerful coming-of-age survival tale exploring issues of race, class, and climate change
Addy is haunted by the tragic fire that killed her parents, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. Years later, Addy’s grandmother has enrolled her in a summer wilderness program. There, Addy joins five other Black city kids—each with their own troubles—to spend a summer out west.
Deep in the forest the kids learn new (and to them) strange skills: camping, hiking, rock climbing, and how to start and safely put out campfires. Most important, they learn to depend upon each other for companionship and survival.
But then comes a devastating forest fire…
Addy is face-to-face with her destiny and haunting past. Developing her courage and resiliency against the raging fire, it’s up to Addy to lead her friends to safety. Not all are saved. But remembering her origins and grandmother’s teachings, she’s able to use street smarts, wilderness skills, and her spiritual intuition to survive.
About the Author
Jewell Parker Rhodes is the author of Ninth Ward, winner of a Coretta Scott King Honor; Sugar, winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award; and the New York Times-bestselling Ghost Boys; as well as Bayou Magic; Towers Falling; Black Brother, Black Brother; and Paradise on Fire. She has written many award-novels for adults, including, MAGIC CITY, a novel about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Jewell is the Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Arizona State University.
Praise for Jewell Parker Rhodes
*"A powerful work and must-have for children's collections."—Booklist, starred review
"Placing biracial boyhood and the struggles of colorism at its center, the novel challenges readers to pursue their own self-definition."—Kirkus
*"An excellent selection for both elementary and middle library collections, this is a title that celebrates finding one's place in the world."—School Library Connection, starred review
"Donte's story is a good primer for younger readers on microaggressions."—School Library Journal
"A classic sports story."—BCCB
"This novel offers a solid story, with relatable, three-dimensional characters considering identity, that will teach readers about colorism's effects."
“The book is sparsely written, poetic in its style. Despite the destruction, the narrative is fundamentally optimistic, rooted in the power of nature and community to bring us back to ourselves when we fear all is lost.” —The Los Angeles Times
"...an exciting page-turner."—School Library Connection
"This page-turning tale is not to be missed."—B&N Reads
"Lyrical in tone, the first-person narration brings home Addy’s love of nature as well as her urgency to protect it."—Horn Book
"Paradise on Fire is a brilliant melding of captivating storytelling and crucial teaching moments."—Shelf Awareness
"People of color have not historically featured in wilderness stories, which makes this title refreshing, especially in light of national conversations around racial equity in outdoor spaces. A strong read-alike for Gary Paulsen fans or older kids who have graduated from the I Survived series but are still seeking a thrilling survival story."
"Addy is a heroine any reader might aspire to be, a teenager who learns to trust her own voice and instincts, who realizes that fire can live within someone, too."—New York Times
" Jewell Parker Rhodes movingly depicts how a girl, orphaned by fire, develops an intense situational awareness that turns into a love of maze- and map-making."—Bloomberg
"Readers will love the mix of suspense, action, and emotion in this book.”—Time for Kids
"...simply a brilliant book"—Bloomberg