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Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite
The Phantom Firefighter: First Responder is a middle-grade novel by J.W. Jarvis. Noah loves video games and spending time with his father. After eating out one night, Noah and his father stumble across a bookstore they hadn’t noticed previously. Noah selects a children’s book with an unconventional cover, and he and his father read it at home. As their interest in the story grows, they find themselves mentally and physically immersed in the world of Zach, a firefighter whose adventures lead him into dangerous situations. Noah assumes Zach’s role and his father is a phantom who watches over him. Noah and his father think that their experience is a dream, but Noah finds evidence that Zach and his team are real, and the decisions made in the book seem to affect the outcomes of the incidents. When Noah shares the book with a friend at school, an unexpected turn of events causes a critical situation.
J.W. Jarvis has a knack for providing intellectually stimulating facts throughout this work. From Australian phrases to the degree of detail in his rescue scenes, it’s apparent that the author either drew on his wealth of knowledge or researched the subject extensively. Readers will be engrossed in this magically realistic story as they move along with the fast-paced plot, and the end leaves room for a sequel. With themes of friendship, family, bullying, tenacity, altruism, and humor, The Phantom Firefighter is a book readers won’t want to put down. Even though the protagonist is a preteen, the story would appeal to young adults and more mature audiences as well. Jarvis donates three percent of this book's sales to the First Responders Children’s Foundation, which provides funding for children whose parents are first responders who died while on duty.