First Fire: A Cherokee Folk Tale by Nancy Kelly Allen


First Fire: A Cherokee Folk Tale by Nancy Kelly Allen and Sherry Rogers (Illustrations)

Age Range: 4 and up

Series: None

Genre: Folk Tale/Picture book

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing (March 1, 2014)

Source: Publisher for review

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Why are ravens black? Why do screech owl eyes look red in light? How did
we get fire? You’ll find the answers to those questions in this
retelling of a Cherokee pourquoi folktale. The earth was cold and dark
but the animals could see fire coming from the tree on the island. They
tried to fly or swim to the island to bring back the fire heat and
light. What happened to some of the animals? Which animal brought it
back and how?

About the Author:

Nancy Kelly Allen is a school librarian and the award-winning author of more than 30 picture books. Her inspiration for writing The First Fire
was to honor her Cherokee great-grandmother, Sarah. She hopes that this
book will provide younger generations an insight into the mystery and
wonder of traditional folktales. Some of her recent and award-winning
titles include On the Banks of the Amazon, What Sea Creature Is This?, and Trouble in Troublesome Creek. Nancy lives in Kentucky with her husband and two dogs. Visit her website at

About the Illustrator:

Sherry Rogers spent twelve years as a corporate graphic
designer and artist before “leaving it all behind” for the freelance
world of illustrating children’s books. Through illustrating The First Fire,
Sherry remembers her own ancestor, Na Ni, a Cherokee woman from the
mountains of North Carolina. Some of Sherry’s other Sylvan Dell titles
include The Penguin Lady, Ten for Me, Hey Diddle Diddle, Newton and Me, Moose and Magpie, Paws, Claws, Hands & Feet, and The Deductive Detective; as well as her award-winning titles: Sort It Out!, Kersplatypus, Burro’s Tortillas, and If You Were a Parrot. Sherry lives in Northern California with her family and their pets. Visit her website at

My Thoughts:

I can’t help but be drawn to Native American folk tales.  They come from such an interesting culture and they are both entertaining and educational.  This particular book is a Cherokee story of how animals first found and claimed fire.  Kids love learning about stories like this.  I read it several times to my girls. They loved the explanations of why a raven is black and why the horned owl has white rings around its eyes, among others. 

The story also teaches a good moral.  The animal that finally figures out how to transport fire is not big or powerful.  It is a small spider with a plan.  The book is written well, and the illustrations are a nice fit with the writing.  First Fire is a beautiful story that has been passed down for generations and will give kids a glimpse at the lives of people that lived on this continent long ago.

For teachers/homeschoolers: Check out the publisher’s website for resources, quizzes,
and activities to use this in the classroom.  Each Arbordale book comes with 2-6 pages of curriculum connections in the back.  This is a section of information relating to the book and that fits into Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards for grades K-3. 


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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