Orca Book Publishers

Browse by Category


A Cherokee Story
Fiction Picture Book
Pages: 40
Themes: determination, cooperation, self-confidence
Publisher: Book Publishing Company
Pub Date: 27/Aug/2020
Bookmark and Share
The First Fire, A Cherokee Story takes place in a time when animals could do many of the things that people do. The Creator gave the animals the world to live on, but they were without a source for heat at night. Great Thunder and his sons saw the plight of the animals so he sent lightning down to strike a tree. The tree burst into flames but the tree was on an island. Many animals tried to bring the fire over the water to the shore, but they were all unsuccessful. Then one small creature, Water Spider, volunteered. Curious, the animals said to her “We know you could get there safely, but how would you bring the fire back without getting burned?

Water Spider was successful and to this day the water spider is revered in Cherokee culture.

Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★“According to Cherokee tradition, when the animals needed fire to keep them warm during cold nights, The Thunder Boys, invoke a lightning bolt to strike and light fire to a lone sycamore tree. Water Spider, a tiny savior, boldly creates an ingenious way to bring fire back to the animal community. Black-outlined characters have a friendly, Saturday morning–cartoon look that nevertheless carries the story’s gravitas well. A heartwarming tale of kinship and community.”
Jennifer Loren, Executive Producer and Host of Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People
“My kids and I absolutely love reading The First Fire. It’s a Cherokee story that I had shared with them many times, but this book brings the story to life. The illustrations are like a guide to our oral storytelling tradition. This is a book that remains on our nightstand, and is a go-to bedtime story for our family.
Bookworm for Kids blog
“Young listeners will be able to flip through the tale on their own, and enjoy the animals' adventures after the tale has been read. It's a great way to introduce Cherokee folklore and open the door to discussions. In other words, this one gets a nice thumbs up from me!”
Deborah Locke
“The illustrations are cute... and the moral of the story rings true: no matter who you are, how insignificant you may feel, you can do great things. You can think of imaginative solutions and act on them. You can be a hero to yourself, and to your people.”

Resources for Teachers:

Orca Book Publishers produces a number of tools and resources to help teachers, librarians, reading specialists and other education professionals enrich the teaching and learning experience.

Please visit our Teacher Resources page to access and download materials.

Classroom Materials:

Free Teacher Guides

Digital Subscriptions

Resource Websites

Research and Support Materials:

Common Core

Reading Levels