The First Fire: A Cherokee Story
The First Fire: A Cherokee Story

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Annotation: This Cherokee myth tells the story of how the small water spider could accomplish what larger animals could not.
Catalog Number: #239077
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Orca Books
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-939053-27-7 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8672-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-939053-27-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8672-0
Dewey: E
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
The animals need the fire, but how will they get it?According to Cherokee tradition, when the animals needed fire to keep them warm during cold nights, Great Thunder and his sons, the Thunder Boys, invoke a lightning bolt to strike and light fire to a lone sycamore tree. Seeing that the tree is located on a tiny island in the middle of a lake, the animals have a meeting to decide how to bring the fire back across the water. Raven tries, but his white feathers are scorched black in his unsuccessful attempt. Screech Owl, Hoot Owl, and Horned Owl all try, but the smoke nearly blinds them, permanently affecting their eyes. Racer Snake and Great Black Snake are also unsuccessful. Finally Water Spider, a tiny savior, boldly creates an ingenious way to bring fire back to the animal community, the bowl she weaves with her silk to carry an ember back becoming a permanent marking on her back. Black-outlined characters have a friendly, Saturday morning–cartoon look that nevertheless carries the story’s gravitas well. Moments of humor—Racer Snake swimming with a comically determined look on his face—balance painful ones. The animals sitting in solemn counsel are a combination of recognizable North American critters and some that are not so familiar, emphasizing that this is a story of creation. Wagnon is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and therapist Stephenson serves the Cherokee Nation.A heartwarming tale of kinship and community. (Picture book/cosmology. 5-8)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
The animals need the fire, but how will they get it?According to Cherokee tradition, when the animals needed fire to keep them warm during cold nights, Great Thunder and his sons, the Thunder Boys, invoke a lightning bolt to strike and light fire to a lone sycamore tree. Seeing that the tree is located on a tiny island in the middle of a lake, the animals have a meeting to decide how to bring the fire back across the water. Raven tries, but his white feathers are scorched black in his unsuccessful attempt. Screech Owl, Hoot Owl, and Horned Owl all try, but the smoke nearly blinds them, permanently affecting their eyes. Racer Snake and Great Black Snake are also unsuccessful. Finally Water Spider, a tiny savior, boldly creates an ingenious way to bring fire back to the animal community, the bowl she weaves with her silk to carry an ember back becoming a permanent marking on her back. Black-outlined characters have a friendly, Saturday morning–cartoon look that nevertheless carries the story’s gravitas well. Moments of humor—Racer Snake swimming with a comically determined look on his face—balance painful ones. The animals sitting in solemn counsel are a combination of recognizable North American critters and some that are not so familiar, emphasizing that this is a story of creation. Wagnon is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and therapist Stephenson serves the Cherokee Nation.A heartwarming tale of kinship and community. (Picture book/cosmology. 5-8)
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Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: P-2
The First Fire, A Cherokee Story takes place in a time when animals could do many of the things that people do. The Creator gave the animals the world to live on, but they were without a source for heat at night. Great Thunder and his sons saw the plight of the animals so he sent lightning down to strike a tree. The tree burst into flames but the tree was on an island. Many animals tried to bring the fire over the water to the shore, but they were all unsuccessful. Then one small creature, Water Spider, volunteered. Curious, the animals said to her We know you could get there safely, but how would you bring the fire back without getting burned?

Water Spider was successful and to this day the water spider is revered in Cherokee culture.

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