Winner of a 2022 Nautilus Book Award silver seal, the very timely picture book Who Needs a Forest Fire? explains how California’s devastating forest fire blazes were not always destroyers of forests and ecosystems. The Nautilus Awards represent “Better Books for a Better World.”

picture book Who Needs a Forest Fire?

Children today see and learn about massive fires where firefighters are sent to battle the flames. Who Needs a Forest Fire?(beautifully illustrated by award-winning Canadian artist Sue Todd and scientific illustrator Emily Underwood of Central California) demonstrates why we need fire! But not the destructive megafires we know today.

Who Needs a Forest Fire? is the debut children’s picture book from author Paula Henson, Los Angeles-based environmental educator, that tells the story of when California’s forest fires served the First Peoples and how for thousands of years the Native Americans used fire as a tool to look after the forest floor like a garden. Fire kept the forest ecology strong.

-Learn why today’s destructive megafires continue to burn year after year in California

-Learn why plants and animals and humans need fire

-Understand how the Native American people of California used fire as a tool to keep the forest ecology strong

-Discover what we can do to help forests and California’s native plants and animals avoid megafires.

A free Teacher’s Guide for Who Needs a Forest Fire? offers activities and resources that are in alignment with California state educational standards, making the book an ideal teaching tool. 

“ … eye-popping, captivating and brimming with educational facts … a brilliant, and beautifully-illustrated factual reading that should appeal and resonate to a wide range of ages … ”

Piret Griffith, Youth Librarian, Truckee Library

The book was commissioned as part of the interpretive exhibit about humans and their relationship with fire: FOREST⇌FIRE. Created by Llewellyn Studio, the project is a partnership between Nevada County Arts Council, Truckee-Donner Recreation and Parks District and University of California, Berkeley – Sagehen Creek Field Station, with Educational and Environmental Outreach by Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships.

Who Needs a Forest Fire?

Paula Henson, Author

Sue Todd, Illustrator

Emily Underwood, Illustrator

Independently published by Terra Bella Books, 2021

Pages: 44

Price: $16.99 print book; $11.99 ebook

ISBN: 978-1-7357212-0-0 (print)    978-1-7357212-1-7 (ebook)

Available at: and