This weekend, we are reading Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World written by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Barry Moser. This colorful picture book is a delightfully historic account of the Christmas that United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill shared in 1941. That December, just after the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base, Churchill traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit with the president. Churchill and Roosevelt spent the holiday making war plans. In this book, Wood chronicles both the political debates and festive escapades at the White House that Christmas.

I know most people don’t enjoy learning about history, but this book offers an enjoyable viewpoint. Read it yourself, and tell me what you think of Christmas in 1941.

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I visited Yellowstone National Park with my family in 2005. At the time, I wasn’t too eager about the trip, but once we made it home I knew that I would always cherish what I had learned and seen of that beautiful place. During my visit, many park rangers talked extensively of the 1988 fire. I learned how important natural fires are to the life cycle of the forests and meadows in Yellowstone, and I could still see the effects of that fire in some places, but I never really knew the extent of that fire until reading this book.

The Great Yellowstone Fire by Carole G. Vogel and Kathryn A. Goldner describes the park, the animals, the fire, and the effects of the fire in a very concise but descriptive manner. The beautiful photographs effectively illustrate the story such that the reader might actually be at the park talking with a park ranger. We learn that fire is important to clear away all of the dead vegetation and make room for new plants, and that fire helps to open the pinecones of lodgepole pine trees and scatter the seeds that will plant new trees. In the park, firefighters only put out the fires that are created by humans, and the natural fires are left to do their jobs. However, in July of 1988 during a very dry summer, the natural wildfires began spreading uncontrollably so that park officials decided to begin fighting all fires. Firefighters recruited from across the country use every available method to fight the fires, but by September the fires reach Old Faithful Village. The historic buildings were saved with brilliant emergency plans and efficient firefighting, and on September 11th snow began to help put out the fires. A harsh summer was followed by a harsh winter, but nature knew what to do once spring came again.

This book is a beautiful example of the glory of Yellowstone National Park. Vogel and Goldner have proven the importance of all our national parks and reminded us that even the scariest changes are necessary.

This weekend we will take the opportunity to read some nonfiction. Yellowstone National Park is one of my favorite places, and it provides so many interesting things to learn. This weekend’s book is The Great Yellowstone Fire by Carole G. Vogel and Kathryn A. Goldner published by the Sierra Club and Little, Brown.

This informational picture book provides an accurate view of life in Yellowstone. Readers will learn about the history of the park and the history of fighting natural wildfires. Photographs document the progressions of the fire that changed the landscape of much of Yellowstone in the summer of 1988. The Great Yellowstone Fire will have you eager to learn more about this wonderful place and might even convince you to hop on the first plane headed to Wyoming.