In February 2019, a tiny spark in a Pigeon Valley paddock became the largest fire in New Zealand since 1955. Up to 150 firefighters fought the Nelson blaze, and some 3,500 people were evacuated including the entire town of Wakefield.
Author Robyn Prokop has based this story, Dozer the Fire Cat, on a real cat that survived those fires.
While his family was busy packing to evacuate, Dozer was oblivious, busy doing what Dozer does - stalking, pouncing, washing, and sleeping. But when he wakes up, his family has gone and the world is a frightening place.
This story of bravery and survival will tug on the heartstrings of any reader.
Prokop swapped her teaching career for writing in 2019, and her years in a classroom, and as a principal too, show. The book is a lovely story to read aloud, with a nice flow, interesting words and plenty of imagery and emotion to keep children, and adult readers, gripped.
Prokop also includes backmatter with facts about the Pigeon Valley fires. She understands what makes a book not only entertaining but also informative, what makes a book essential for a learner. Dozer the Fire Cat fits the bill perfectly - a vivid, emotive story that captures attention but also delivers facts. This book could spark interesting conversations within classroom settings for children regardless of age. It is the perfect book to add to a fire safety or emergency management unit.
Illustrated by Jenny Cooper each double page spread sings with emotion. The page of Dozer finally waking up is an absolute stand-out. Dozer's emotion is incredible and the hazy, burned atmosphere is full of meaning. The designers have done a wonderful job ensuring the full beauty of Cooper's artwork is left to shine, not clogged down with overbearing text.
A wonderful story about a brave little cat during one of our worst fires that will capture your heart. I hope Prokop and Cooper team up again.
Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell
Scholastic, RRP $18.99