Children’s Book Reviews
Children's Book Review: Breathing Fire
Publish March 27, 2014
Award winning poet and children’s author, Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang, explores love and loss in her poignant coming of age novel, Breathing Fire. At fifteen, Ally enters foster care for the first time after the death of her chronically depressed mother. Struggling to cope with grief and unhappy in her new home, Ally opens up when she meets Tate, a fire-breathing busker. With her background in gymnastics, Ally is a natural at juggling torches and performing stunts. As her feelings for Tate deepen, Ally decides to join him performing at the summer festivals. But Ally has misinterpreted Tate’s interest in her, and finds herself stranded, with no friends, no job, and a rapidly dwindling cash supply. Suddenly, Ally must rely on skill and ingenuity to avoid being caught and sent back to her foster home. Ally soon discovers that performing might provide her with more than a means of survival – it might help her create a place to belong. Written for reluctant readers, Breathing Fire exploits careful word selection, repetitive phrasing, and evocative imagery to assist with developing literacy skills. The novel is fast-paced and simply written, yet mature in content and challenging enough to intrigue older readers. Sizzling with the heat and energy of a bonfire, Tsiang’s narrative illuminates the fragile world of foster care, while artfully describing the transient and often dangerous work of buskers and festival performers. Readers will feel the heat of the torches as Ally flips, twists, and tosses, searching for the perfect balance in her act as well as her life. Breathing Fire Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang 978-1-459-805651 Orca Books Mar. 2014. 133 pp. Ages 12 and up. Karen Doerksen lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta with her husband and four children. She works for the Edmonton Public Library, and holds a master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Alberta. The National Reading Campaign publishes children’s book reviews under a Creative Commons License. This review is entirely free to reproduce and republish online and in print. Credit must be given to the reviewer and the National Reading Campaign. Reviews can be edited for brevity only. Contact Us for more information.