Squire With Fire

When Sparks Fly

Children - Adventure
40 Pages
Reviewed on 03/20/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Karen Hesson for Readers' Favorite

Squire With Fire: When Sparks Fly by Joseph Cassis is a fun and interesting children’s book. A grandfather finds a chest of family “treasures” in the garage and takes some time to teach his young granddaughter, Mackenzie, or Mac for short, about their family history. He shows her all the things inside the treasure chest and explains what they were and how they were used in the past. The grandfather then tells Mac a magical story about her ancestors and a dragon named Spitfire. The dragon and Squire Mackenzie helped to save their castle from a Viking invasion.

I read Squire with Fire: When Sparks Fly to my six-year-old son. He was excited when he heard about the rocks that start fires and said, “That’s flint and steel! Like on Minecraft!” He listened very intently while I read the section that explained how these rocks worked. My son also thought the idea of dragons having s’mores was hilarious. My favorite part of the story was the relationship that Mac and her grandfather had. I liked the way Mackenzie’s grandfather spoke to her. He used big words, but also explained their meaning and reminded Mackenzie to be careful and smart. Mac and her grandfather played marbles, looked at maps, learned how to start a fire, and ended up having a wonderful and meaningful day together. Joseph Cassis created a lovely story that was enjoyed by both my son and me. We will definitely check out the first book, too!

Jamie Michele

When Sparks Fly by Joseph Cassis is the second book in the children's fantasy and adventure series Squire with Fire, preceded by book one, A Happy Dragon Tale. In this installment, Mackenzie and her grandfather bring out an old safe hidden away in a closet, dusting the chest it contains and opening it up to reveal its contents. As Mackenzie is shown each historical artifact from the chest, her grandfather explains their connection to the past and expands on the stories of yesteryear. As the tale unfolds, Mackenzie learns more about her namesake and the heroism displayed as their ancestors were attacked by Vikings, and the dragons who played a special role in the feud.

When Sparks Fly is a creative children's book that ties together timeless themes of bravery and teamwork. Joseph Cassis is both the author and the illustrator, mixing sketches with lifelike images in a unique artistic format that complements the narrative. I particularly enjoyed how some questions and phrases were written in larger fonts so they may stand out. The result is a multi-textual pattern that is able to piece the story together, which is occasionally a bit dense for a children's book. I loved that the book went beyond a skirmish and into the pulling together of townsfolk and even another dragon, displaying that teamwork and community are important at all times. When Sparks Fly reads perfectly well as a stand-alone but I am of the opinion that most will find greater enjoyment if it is read as a companion to the first book in the series.

Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer)

If you're interested in knights and dragons, then Squire with Fire: When Sparks Fly by Joseph Cassis is the book for you. When the book begins, Mackenzie’s grandfather is taking a box of mementos out of the bedroom closet. Mackenzie and her grandfather open it to find a bag of marbles and some rocks called cherts that can produce fire. This reminds her grandfather of a story about Mackenzie’s ancestor, Squire Mackenzie, and the dragon Spitfire. When Squire Mackenzie’s castle is being threatened by Viking invaders, she must stop them, and thankfully she has a dragon on her side. But how do marbles and cherts fit into this story of heroics?

With appealing characters, interesting scenes, and well-drawn pictures, Squire with Fire: When Sparks Fly by Joseph Cassis is an enjoyable read. I love the idea of having the grandfather tell the tale to his granddaughter, as it puts the story into a more personable and relatable setting, which helps the reader get into the story more. The plot is very interesting and entertaining, with dragons and invasions, but it is also educational. I like the way that Mackenzie asks what certain words mean, since they are words that some younger readers may not be familiar with, and it is a good way of explaining what the words mean. The layout of the book is very engaging and eye-catching with colorful, well-drawn pictures, and some lines written in different fonts and font sizes that makes it likely to attract the reader's attention. The characters are instantly likable, very realistic, and the author really catches Mackenzie's childlike wonder and enthusiasm and the grandfather’s care and kindness. I enjoyed reading this book, and would definitely recommend it.