Percy knew about the terrible prairie fires that razed frontier farms. October’s unusual dry weather was a sure threat. For days his father and the oxen had been plowing a fire break around the homestead. Percy wanted to help but he was too young to control both oxen and plow.
It was Percy who first warned of the fire. As his parents flew into action at the firebreak, he suddenly found himself responsible for protecting the buildings and haystacks. Firebrands seemed to be falling everywhere. He could not carry single buckets of water fast enough to extinguish them all. The family horse would have to pull the sled and rain barrel for him. Normally she was much too strong for him and now she was terrified! Without her, he would lose the battle for the whole family. What could a young boy do?
In “The Prairie Fire” Marilyn Reynolds wastes no words showing, through action, each step of Percy’s understanding and growth in the face of danger. Percy is not presented as just a boy trying to please his father. He is a young man who appreciates what values are at stake, and heroically engages in the biggest fight of his short life.