I Escaped the California Camp Fire, by Scott Peters and S.D. Brown, is historical fiction, part of the I Escaped Series that is aimed towards 8–13 year-old readers. However, with its clever descriptions, relatable characters, and pop culture references, it can easily appeal to all ages. For instance, on page 8, the book mentions a character “doing her version of Vanna White and sweeping her hand across the spotless kitchen.”
I Escaped the California Camp Fire is a captivating book that draws you in right from the start. I was so engrossed that I had a hard time putting it down. In the opening scene, the protagonists are left at home alone because their parents are on a trip for twenty-four hours. While their parents are away, chaos breaks out. The siblings, Emma and Troy, are racing against a monstrous fire. Amidst all of this frenzied excitement, an electrical black-out takes place making it harder for them to escape.
The vivid descriptions made the dangers seem life-like and had me clinging to the edge of my seat, rooting for Emma and Troy to make it out alive. For instance, on page 2 the fire is described as accelerating at a rate fast enough to consume “the equivalent of a football field every second.” Further along, the author writes, “It felt like an oven cranked up to broil.” Later, Troy states, “Look at the hill, flames are spilling down it.” This gave me terrifying visual images while creating a phenomenal picture in my mind. I could practically feel the scorching heat right through the pages. And finally, when I read, “The flames hit the ravine and it looked like a movie filmed in Hades” it made me realize how dangerous the California campfire really was.
Troy and Emma were in a couple of tricky situations, but they fought through the smoke and flames managing to survive. It’s truly remarkable how they were able to live through the sixth most likely devastating fire in the U.S. all by themselves.
This book demonstrates how devastating fires can be and the long-lasting impact on people’s lives and the environment. For example, the California Camp Fire destroyed thousands of buildings, and some people are still financially recovering from the fire. It is estimated that the fire cost people 150 million dollars.
For all of the reasons above I would highly recommend this book. Overall, it was thrilling, action-packed and I really enjoyed reading it. While the story itself is fictitious, I learned about a fascinating, albeit scary historical event from reading this book.
Blake Kurta is 12-years-old and lives in Charlotte, NC. He is homeschooled. In his spare time he enjoys constructing 3D Metal Earth rockets, painting, and pickle ball.