Eleven-year-old Hallelujah is fascinated by the fires burning all over the city of Chicago. Little does she realize that her life will be changed forever by the flames that burn with such bright fascination for her.
The year is 1871 and this event will later be called the Great Chicago Fire. Hallelujah and her newfound friend Elizabeth are as different as night and day; but their shared solace will bind them as friends forever, as a major American city starts to rebuild itself.
Robinet makes history come alive in this riveting account of the Great Chicago Fire as witnessed by an orphaned African American girl. Eager for adventure, Hallelujah, a former slave, follows her foster brother through city streets to watch the conflagration that has started in Chicago's West Division. Excitement turns to fear when the 11-year-old girl sees rows of buildings engulfed in flames and realizes how many people have lost their homes. During the next few hours, as she weaves her way through crowds, experiences the chaos that is the aftermath of destruction and shares the pain of loss with strangers, Hallelujah learns how all people become equals in times of crisis. Hallelujah emerges as a likable, spunky heroine who discovers her self-worth during the course of events. Readers will feel the intensity of her emotions and will applaud her ability to cling to hope in the midst of disaster. Ages 8-12.