Thursday, December 12, 2019

If the Fire Comes: A Story of Segregation During the Great Depression.

Daley, Tracey. If the Fire Comes: A Story of Segregation During the Great Depression.
September 1st 2019 by Jolly Fish Press
Library copy

Joseph McCoy's life is difficult, due to the Great Depression and the drought in California in 1935. His sister is unable to walk due to complications from polio, and both of their parents have died, leaving them in the care of an uncle who is having trouble dealing with his own problems, let alone theirs. Joseph shines shoes to help earn money, so he hears a lot of talk about what is going on in town. Joseph also struggles to get a wheelchair rigged up for his sister, but people sabotage his efforts. When an all-black Civilian Conservation Corps camp settles outside the mostly white town, tensions rise. Joseph has come into possession of a small flock of messenger pigeons, and Mr. Jackson, a local man who is a bit different, helps him to train them, since Jackson worked with them during WWI. When forest fires threaten the town, the pigeons are instrumental in letting the CCC workers know and help the town prepare.
Strengths: It's difficult for students today to grasp how hard life was during the Great Depression, and this pointed out some of the situations that children their own age had to deal with at this time. The treatment of the disabled will come as a surprise, and the treatment of African-Americans is all too familiar still. The tie-in with a WWI vet is interesting; trench warfare was ghastly, but there aren't many portrayals of veterans of that conflict in middle grade literature today. The information at the end of the book supports a lot of topics that students might not know a lot about.
Weaknesses: Joseph's entries about caring for the pigeons took me out of the story a bit, but they were short and did have good information.
What I really think: This series has some fascinating titles. There is also Journey to a Promised Land: A Story of the Exodusters, and Lines We Draw: A Story of Imprisoned Japanese Americans.

Ms. Yingling


  1. these look really cool, but my vendor is charging THIRTY DOLLARS for a hardcover!!

  2. Follett Titles are is charging $15 for the prebind, so $30 seems a bit much!

    1. wha?? i use baker and taylor which is owned by Follett! something screwy here... the pbs are $8, which is a bit high too! if they were more affordable i'd buy multiple copies for our school to use for their historical fiction unit.