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Firestorm! Paperback – September 20, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-6-Orphaned Poppy, 12, is tired of stealing for Ma Brennan and living in a rough Chicago neighborhood in 1871, so she begins to plan her escape. By chance she meets Justin Butterworth, the son of a wealthy jeweler who lives in a beautiful house and has a new pet goat named Ticktock. He takes Poppy to see his goat, and she meets his sister, who gives Poppy her old clothes. Ma Brennan finds out about Poppy's new friends and threatens to hurt Ticktock if the child does not get her a key to the jewelry shop. Although Poppy does not take anything from Mr. Butterworth, she overhears him accuse her of stealing. She runs away and takes Ticktock with her so Ma Brennan can't harm her. The night of the Great Chicago Fire, Justin and Poppy struggle with thousands of others to flee before they are reunited. The narrative alternates between the two friends; both characters represent the time period, but lack a spark of originality. The plot moves steadily until the night of the blaze, when the action and details are literally on fire. Harlow's afterword gives additional information about the Great Chicago Fire and clarifies which parts of her book were based on facts and real people.-Samantha Larsen Hastings, Riverton Library, UT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Two worlds collide when 12-year-old Poppy, a skilled pickpocket working the streets of 1870s Chicago, meets 13-year-old Justin Butterworth, a prominent jeweler’s son. Justin’s sister warns, “Be careful. . . . You don’t know where this friendship with Poppy might lead you.” Yet with the help of Justin’s goat, Ticktock, he and Poppy soon become friends. Neither character has it easy: Justin is jealous of his older brother, Charlie, the next in line to run their father’s business, and Poppy’s “caretaker,” a Fagin-like character, forces Poppy to make a wax impression of the key to the Butterworth’s store in hopes of robbing it. Narrated in alternating chapters by both Poppy and Justin, the story follows their struggles and ends with their suspenseful escape from the Great Chicago Fire. Although the dialogue doesn’t always ring true, and the situations occasionally seem contrived, Harlow has done her research about the details of the fire and effectively touches on class issues and the economic disparity of the time. Grades 4-7. --Ryan Donovan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Reprint edition (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416984860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416984863
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,661 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Hiatt Harlow's books have won awards from ASPCA,DISNEY ADVENTURES,FLORIDA STATE BOOK AWARD; PARENTS CHOICE SEALS, CT. NUTMEG AWARD. Joan is now writing a second WWII Novel, to be published in 2014. See all Joan's books on Amazon.com and www.joanhiattharlow.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kendal A. Rautzhan on February 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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Read aloud: age 8 and older.
Read yourself: age 11 - 12 and older.

Twelve-year-old Poppy is an orphan living in a rough Chicago neighborhood in 1871. Her unofficial "guardian" is Ma Brennan, who forces Poppy to steal and turn over all of her spoils to Ma Brennan. If Poppy doesn't do as Ma Brennan says, she won't have anywhere to sleep, nothing to eat, and will be severely beaten or worse.
On Saturday morning, September 30, Poppy accidentally knocks into Justin as she is trying to escape notice after picking a woman's pocket. Thirteen-year-old Justin is different from Poppy in a lot of ways; he has a loving family, an adorable pet goat that Poppy loves, and Justin's father owns the most prestigious jewelry store in the city. Despite their differences, the two strike up an unlikely friendship that is soon to be tested.
Although Poppy spends time at Justin's house, it is clear his father doesn't trust Poppy and is convinced she will surely steal from them. When Justin makes a mistake in his father's store and it appears that a valuable chain has been stolen, Justin's father blames Poppy.
While Poppy is innocent, there doesn't seem to be any way to prove that. Just then, the Great Chicago Fire begins to swallow the city and its residents in its inferno. Like everyone else in Chicago, Justin and his family are trying to make their way to safety. So, too, is Poppy, and it is then that she sees an opportunity to clear her name, but she must risk everything, including, perhaps, her life, to do so.
Riveting from start to finish, this work of historical fiction excels in every regard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 2ReadorNot2Read on September 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book of historical fiction had me and my daughter on the edge of our seats from beginning to end. Another wonderful work by Joan Hiatt Harlow, that blends historical facts into real life fictional scenes, this book will make you want to stay awake all night to see what is going to happen next. As always, Joan Hiatt Harlow has done an outstanding job in her research and presentation of the historical Chicago Fire of the late 1800s, and has magically intertwined these facts with a perfect blend of excitement, love and a heart rendering plot of conscience, family and survival. A definite must for your family library!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Autumn on September 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read and loved Firestorm. Joan never disappoints her readers. Again she has created very real characters that you find yourself wishing you knew personally. The Chicago fire was a great historical event to center this heartwarming tale of an orphan who finds love in an unlikely place. It is exciting from start to finish and makes you long to know more about the great fire and the city of chicago. It also has a very unique feature in that this story is told from 2 view points both that of the orphan Poppy and her friend Justin. Which is an exciting detail in the story. Read it you won't be disappointed!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful, beautiful, it incorporates strong emotions for young ones, sadness, insecurity, isolation, goals, joy and questions about life...........it is a beautiful testimony of faith, love and strength of character! Also a very real and well researched book about the Chicago Fire...............the history is amazing, and so true.........I would highly recommend this book it is truly a great book not only for young adults, as it is marketed for, but also for adults! I read it and loved it totally. Was surprised about what I learned about Chicago during that era............also Poppy and other characters, come to life. Joan Hiatt Harlow has such a miraculous gift..............she brings the characters to life, and we learn valuable lessons that stay with us, and we can learn from! Truly a book to read, enjoy and share, especially with young ones, or grand children.....a gift! Thank you Joan Hiatt Harlow..........love all of your books!
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By Sunny Bunny on June 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was one of the best books I have ever read. I really love how the author makes it seem like she was actually in the fire. I can't wait to read another book from Joan Hiatt Harlow.
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By Mark Brashear on January 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Joan is an awesome author and i will continue to read all of her books. I look up to Joan. She inspires me!!! :)
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