While it deftly captures the intricacies of firefighting, this book would benefit from more color and character development.



A Native American explores the history of the firefighting crews he served on for three decades.

As the Western United States suffers through another devastating fire season, the ranks of those fighting the blazes likely include hundreds of Native Americans. This is not a novel phenomenon. As debut author Whiteplume shows in his revealing history of the Sho-Rap Fire Crew Organization from Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation, “federal wildland fire agencies have depended on Native American firefighting crews since the 1940s,” providing “an economic boon for many Indian reservations.” Whiteplume, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wind River, worked with the Sho-Rap crews for many years and he meticulously documents the evolution of Native American firefighting—from the Office of Indian Affairs’ establishment of a “general fire protection program” in 1910 to the organization of the first Sho-Rap crews in 1967. From rattlesnakes on the trails to “crabby” Sho-Rap bosses, the crews faced all the hazards of their trade and, remarkably enough, always returned from assignments without large-scale casualties or fatalities. “The everyday struggle for a people to survive made us stronger and less prone to carelessness when it came time to battle either enemies or nature,” the author asserts. Vivid details from the firefighting front and historical photos enliven the book. In Idaho’s rugged Salmon Country, Whiteplume “lost count of the number of headless rattlers we came across on our hike” to the front, all of them dispatched for the purpose of “removing a fireline hazard.” But the book largely fails to catch fire, in part because Whiteplume focuses on bureaucratic minutiae rather than the more intriguing elements of his story. Problems such as racism—the author recalls seeing a “No dogs, no Indians” sign in the front window of a diner—and alcoholism are mentioned only in passing and readers will learn little about the Sho-Rap firefighters themselves. The author, though, does succeed in giving historical weight to the craft of the Wind River crews, one that, unfortunately, may be fading into oblivion. Unless Native American firefighters are offered another opportunity to be “a positive force in America’s forests,” Whiteplume warns, “then the Sho-Raps along with some other native crews will be just another historical footnote.”

While it deftly captures the intricacies of firefighting, this book would benefit from more color and character development.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-88912-1

Page Count: 186

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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