Parents' Guide to

Words on Fire

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Tale of late-1800s Lithuania has big ideas but lacks punch.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 1 parent review

age 10+

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (20 ):

Unfortunately, author Jennifer A. Nielsen doesn't bring much fire to her words in this unusual story with a lot to teach about the importance of books and literature. The plot is steady, but neither it nor main character Audra have much spark or punch to them because Nielsen doesn't take advantage of the important moments to really show Audra's changing understanding and appreciation of books. Instead, she mostly just keeps repeating that books are important because they keep culture, history, language, and ideas alive. This makes it hard for the reader to have a real emotional connection with her.

But there's enough of a story here, in an unusual time and place, to hold the interest of kids who enjoy historical fiction, and cleverly introduces some literary concepts like symbolism through the story-within-the-story of the girl, the snake, and the bear. The supporting characters are also solid but not quite as colorful as it seems like they could be, and they're a little hard to get to know, too. There's some violence, scariness, and dread, but it's vague and lacks intensity. It's full of important ideas and concepts about freedom, culture, history, and more, but just doesn't quite drive much of it home in a truly compelling way.

Book Details

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