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Children's Fiction Disasters

What to Bring

by (author) Lorna Schultz Nicholson

illustrated by Ellen Rooney

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Mar 2023
Disasters, Emotions & Feelings, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2023
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 7
  • Grade: 1 to 12


A moving story about making tough choices when disaster strikes

Malia and her family are spending a day outside when they notice something strange. Huge white-and-gray clouds fill the sky, planes zoom overhead, and the air smells funny. A forest fire is sweeping the area, and they need to evacuate their home.

Daddy tells Malia that she needs to choose what to bring. “Pick small things. Things important to you,” he says. But there’s so much that Malia wants to take with her! Her pillows and blankets. Her family of teddy bears. LOTS of books. As the pile in her room grows, and chaos swirls around her, Malia comes to realize that what is most important to her won’t fit in a backpack: her little brother, her cat, and her dog.

This heartfelt and powerful story explores a rare perspective: experiencing a natural disaster through the eyes of a child. Malia’s authentic voice will resonate with readers, and the book’s challenging subject matter is balanced with gentle lessons in communication, problem-solving, and family.

About the authors


LORNA SCHULTZ NICHOLSON a grandi à St. Catharines, en Ontario. Enfant, elle aimait lire, écrire et jouer à plusieurs sports. Elle a joué en tant que défenseure dans une équipe de hockey féminine et elle était membre de l'équipe nationale d'aviron. Elle est une auteure reconnue de livres destinés aux pré-ados et ados, de la série d'albums illustrés Puckster et de plusieurs livres documentaires sur le hockey. Lorna habite à Edmonton, en Alberta.


LORNA SCHULTZ NICHOLSON grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, and as a child loved to read, write and compete in all kinds of sports. She is the respected author of many middle-grade and YA novels, the Puckster picture book series, and several non-fiction books about hockey, including the Amazing Hockey Stories series. Lorna lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her family. Not surprisingly, she is a HUGE Edmonton Oilers fan. Visit her online at


Lorna Schultz Nicholson's profile page

Ellen Rooney is an award-winning designer, artist and children’s book illustrator. Her textural mixed media artwork combines many traditional art techniques, like pencil drawing, painting, printmaking and collage, often combined with digital techniques. She is the winner of the 2021 Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize for Grandmother School. Originally from Massachusetts, she now lives in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.


Ellen Rooney's profile page


  • Short-listed, Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize
  • Saskatchewan Shining Willow Award Finalist
  • Commended, Bookstagang Best of 2023
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets Honorable Mention
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens

Editorial Reviews

"With wildfires a fact of life, more children will be facing the question of what to bring. This book has some answers, but more, offers a forum for gentle preparation. A necessary title for young readers."

School Library Journal - STARRED REVIEW

"A scary subject is addressed sensitively here ... A gentle story that affirms big feelings and prioritizes relationships."


"Textured artwork brings the emotional impact of the evacuation front and center, while also showing readers it is a situation that can be managed with patience and understanding ... Will certainly provide fodder for conversations."

Sal's Fiction Addiction

"Reassuring to children facing a similar situation, this selection also offers a subtle, heartfelt message to all about the importance of family that young listeners can discuss ... A straightforward and comforting exploration of an emergency evacuation."

Kirkus Reviews

"Written and illustrated by two women who have experienced the local threat of wildfire in the Okanagan Valley, What to Bring is an effective and timely story about love, family and community during our age of climate crisis."

Canadian Review of Materials

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