Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Firekeeper's Son by Linda Sue Park

Sang-hee lives in a quiet village where not much seems to happen. Every night his father scans the sea for enemy ships and if the coast is clear he lights a fire on the mountain. Another person on a nearby mountain does the same thing and the pattern continues until roughly 8 bonfires are lit and they reach the King's palace letting him know that the land is safe from enemies. One night it looks like the fire is not going to be lit. Sang-hee's mom knows the coast is free of enemies and thinks something has happened to Sang-hee's father. She sends him up the mountain where he finds his dad with a broken ankle. It is up to Sang-hee to light the fire. Except Sang-hee secretly wants to see the palace soldiers and knows if he doesn't light the fire they will come to fight the enemy. Sang-hee must decide whether to be responsible or not. Will he light the fire or not?

This is based on the bonfire signal communications used in Korea during the 1800s. The writing is descriptive and suspenseful. Older, as well as younger, students will like this book. Themes about being responsible and contributing to a community can be discussed. There is a clear story line with a climax that can be used to teach story mountains. The character struggles internally with his decision to light the fire or not. A good mentor text.

Reading Level 3.0
4 out of 5 smileys

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