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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Saving Thunder the Great / Leanne Shirtliffe

Saving Thunder the Great - Leanne Shirtliffe

"If you have to evacuate while I'm away, just take Thunder the Great."

Those were Mamma's instructions the day before flames roared into Fort McMurray. On May 3, 2016, Mamma and Thunder the Great — a gerbil belonging to her son Jackson — were forced to flee their home. In a frightening rescue attempt, Mamma faces wildfire, traffic gridlock, an empty gas tank, and other challenges … all to get Thunder and herself to safety for the sake of her son.

Saving Thunder the Great is the true story of a hungry gerbil's rescue, a mother's love for her child, and the community who helps her.


This author will be a featured speaker at a conference that I am attending in August. Since I try to read something by each of the key-note speakers before the event, I requested this children’s book from my library. As Friday was exceedingly smokey from northern wildfires, this particular book seemed especially appropriate. Based on actual events following the Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016, it follows the path of a mother and her son’s pet gerbil, Thunder the Great, during the evacuation of that city.

If I wasn’t already familiar with the events of that summer, I think I might have sometimes wondered what was going on in this book. There is a lot of knowledge that the reader is just assumed to possess. In my opinion, the fearsome nature of the evacuation is rather glossed over--to prevent nightmares amongst the target audience presumably. If we are to abandon factual accuracy, it would have been more effective to make the child the main character of the book--I’m not sure how much children will identify with the mother as main focus. 

The artwork is lovely and very realistic. It’s not often that I see gerbils appearing in illustrations in books. An explanation for Thunder the Great’s name would have been welcome, at least to me.