Tag Archives: true story

Book Review: Saving Thunder the Great: the true story – by Leanne Shirtliffe





Title: Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil's 
rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire
Author: Leanne Shirtliffe
Illustrator: Georgia Graham
Publisher: Boulder Publications
Date: November 2, 2016
Genre: nonfiction picture book; ages 4-8
Pages: 32, hardcover
Price: $21.95
My rating: A child-friendly telling of a traumatic true event 

Saving Thunder the Great: a true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire, written by Leanne Shirtliffe is a story children will enjoy reading.

It was May 1, 2016, when a fire started outside the northern city of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada.

Jackson was visiting his grandparents in Newfoundland, the farthest eastern province of Canada, and had left his pet gerbil – Thunder the Great – in the care of his mother in Fort McMurray. His mother, Julie, was a young woman working nightshifts, trying to support herself and her son.

On the afternoon of May 3 Julie was wakened by a friend urgently telling her they had to get out of there, the wildfire was spreading so that all 88,000 residents of Fort McMurray had to be evacuated immediately. The fire was moving so quickly she had time only to throw some clothes into a suitcase, grab the gerbil in his cage, and head her car – low on gas – out of the city.

It was a terrifying experience. Along the way Julie stopped to pick up a few people who were walking in the choking smoke and let them out where they needed to go. Julie is the person who took a photo of a woman, Karley, riding her horse and leading her two others to get them out safely. That photo went “viral.” Georgia Graham‘s illustrations makes the reader feel the urgency.

The Fort McMurray wildfires were very dangerous and destructive. Author Leanne Shirtliffe, talked with Julie several times to get her personal story of the events, and through Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire, her story is told on a level suitable for children to read while not ignoring the real-life drama. 

Although the beautiful illustrations by Georgia Graham show how close the fire was to the thousands of people escaping to save their lives, they do not make this book too scary for young readers. Her work is impressive and realistic.

In the back of the book you’ll find two pages of Author’s Notes about Fort McMurray and Julie, who is referred to as Mama through the story. Also, in case you read the publisher’s information on the last page and wonder about it … when I inquired about Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire being listed as a fiction I was informed by the publisher “The book is non-fiction; the cataloguing citation is an error.”

You can find Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire by Leanne Shirtliffe on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


Book Review: Heroes of Isle aux Morts – by Alice Walsh






Book: Heroes of Isle aux Morts
Author: Alice Walsh
Illustrator: Geoff Butler
Publisher: Tundra Books
Date: February 15, 2001
Genre: picture book; age 8 - 12 yrs, gr 3 - 7
Pages: 32, hardcover
Price: $5.50, varies
My rating: a well-told true story with fabulous illustrations

Heroes of Isle aux Morts by Alice Walsh is an amazing true story about a very hazardous rescue that happened in July 1828 off the coast of Newfoundland before it was a province of Canada.

Early one morning Anne Harvey woke to the sound of a ferocious storm and above the wind a distress signal. Then she saw a flare light up the sky, meaning there was a ship in trouble and without help its passengers would surely drown. Many ships had been driven onto the rocks in storms, and Anne and her father knew there wasn’t much time for a rescue. The island where the family lived was called Isle aux Morts, meaning island of the dead, because of so many people losing their lives off their coast.

Anne, her father, her younger brother, and their large Newfoundland dog, Hairy Man, loaded into a dory and launched into the waves. Newfoundland dogs are known for their brave deeds, and what the family did to save those people made them, and especially Hairy Man, heroes. It’s an unbelievable story, and yet it’s true. History notes how King George IV, king of England, recognized the family as heroes for saving the lives of one hundred and sixty-three passengers, one by one, in treacherous conditions.

Heroes of Isle aux Morts is a must-read story of the ship the Despatch, the Harvey family, a Newfoundland dog, and a historical rescue at sea. Alice Walsh, formerly from Newfoundland, wrote a breath-taking story of drama and bravery. The illustrations by Geoff Butler are fantastic, showing how rugged and dangerous the rescue was that dark, stormy day.

You can find Heroes of Isle aux Morts by Alice Walsh on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: One Plastic Bag – by Miranda Paul







Book: One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling 
Women of the Gambia
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Date: 2015
Genre: children's; age 6-9; gr 1-4
Pages: 32
Price: $19.99
My rating: True story superbly told for children to 
understand its importance

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia was written by Miranda Paul after hearing about this success story and doing extensive research to get it just right.

This is a true story, simplified for the sake of the genre. However, even simplified it is a dramatic and very impressive story of change.

In 1970 Isatou is born in Gambia. She grows up seeing, and then using, plastic bags that seem to be more convenient to use than the handmade baskets she used for carrying things. The problem is the plastic bags, when no longer useful, do not degrade and mix back into the earth like the baskets. They become an unmanageable, unhealthy, dangerous accumulation of garbage in the village and surrounding villages. The plastic bags make it hard for the villagers’ gardens to produce, they strangle the animals necessary to households, and they cause disease. No one knows what to do with the bags once they are no longer useful.

One day Isatou gathers up some of the smelly bags and takes them home. She and some other women wash them and, while they are drying on the line, Isatou watches her sister crocheting. She asks her sister to teach her, and then Isatou comes up with an idea. Secretly, she and a few other women get busy evolving the old plastic bags into useful things – until their impact is noticed over a year later and cannot remain a secret.

One Plastic Bag is a story about how Isatou and her friends make a difference in the world through their recycling efforts. It’s a remarkable accomplishment with very positive environmental results.

Elizabeth Zunon illustrated One Plastic Bag by using her skill of collage. Her work is stunning.

Actual photos are included of the women in the story.

One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul is a story that will help to bring awareness to young readers. One person CAN make a difference.

You can find One Plastic Bag on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂