A tailless dog and tiny woodland folks called the Shuns return in this third series entry from Franks and Rodriguez (Corky Tails: Tales of a Tailless Dog Named Sagebrush, 2017, etc.).
Sagebrush, a corgi, and her human, a white ranch owner named Young Miss, are doing chores one morning when they notice ash falling from the sky. “Run for your lives! The woods are on fire!” warn the local deer who stampede through the ranch. Young Miss and the ranch dogs get the cattle to safety and see a smoke jumper, a firefighter trained to combat forest blazes, parachute into the woods. The growing threat of the fire looms in the background of Rodriguez’s inviting illustrations, with the colors hinting at peril without overwhelming young readers. In the meantime, the smoke jumper discovers the fire was started by the previous book’s villains: careless loggers overcutting the ancient forest. They were too lazy to clean the motors of their machines, creating a fire hazard with the debris. The smoke jumper also helps a Shun find a home at the ranch. Franks’ vivid and timely tale should appeal to young conservationists, who will want to discover the forest’s fate in future installments. But with the brave smoke jumper at center stage, Sagebrush feels less vital to the story, and this picture book seems more like a middle chapter of an ongoing saga than a stand-alone tale. The dense but approachable text might be better suited to chapter-book readers, who could enjoy all three tales back to back.
An intriguing forest story for young environmentalists.