Kid’s book hon­ours lo­cal fire fight­ers

The Prince George Citizen - - FRONT PAGE - Frank PEEBLES Cit­i­zen staff fpee­[email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

It isn’t un­com­mon for kids to look upon fire­fight­ers as he­roes, but in Prince Ge­orge on Tuesday, there was some re­verse ad­mi­ra­tion hap­pen­ing at Fire Hall No. 1.

Nathan McTag­gart was in the city on a tour show­ing off his lat­est chil­dren’s book. McTag­gart is 13 years old and his fresh ti­tle Brandy & Her Su­per Hero is the third book he and his father Keven have writ­ten to­gether. All of them fo­cus on first re­spon­ders and some fan­tas­ti­cal ad­ven­tures.

The McTag­gart fam­ily lives in the Lower Main­land but the lat­est book is about a dog with agility skills who helps save a group of stranded fire fight­ers bat­tling Cari­boo wild­fires. He stopped in places like Ashcroft, Cache Creek and Ques­nel on his way to this most northerly spot on his jun­ket, and he was headed to Wil­liams Lake fol­low­ing his tours of Prince Ge­orge fire halls. There he was sched­uled to meet with T’ex­el­cemc chief Wil­lie Sell­ers who is also the author of chil­dren’s books.

All of these places were deeply af­fected by re­cent wild­fires, hence the young writer’s in­ter­est in the per­sonal knowl­edge.

“We had some crews go out,” to aid for­est fire sup­pres­sion ef­forts in neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties, ex­plained Mar­cel Pro­feit, the city’s chief fire preven­tion of­fi­cer, one of many at the fire de­part­ment who spent time talk­ing with McTag­gart. Pro­feit also ex­plained how Prince Ge­orge hosted thou­sands of evac­uees from the very area in which Brandy & Her Su­per Hero is based. “This book hits home for us.”

There was a quiet stream of fire­fight­ers pulling bills out of their wal­lets to buy their own copies of the book, in­tend­ing them for the kids in their own lives.

All the money raised from the three books he has writ­ten goes to var­i­ous char­i­ties McTag­gart has cho­sen.

Mayor Lyn Hall and coun­cil­lor Su­san Scott also stopped by to meet the young author.

Hall re­marked that each book was also an op­por­tu­nity to spread the safety mes­sage to young au­di­ences, as each story has learn­ing points built into the plot.

One of the fire de­part­ment’s chiefs, Kevin Sco­bie, swapped chal­lenge coins – dec­o­ra­tive coins pre­sented to mem­bers of or­ga­ni­za­tions like the mil­i­tary, po­lice and fire­fight­ers – with McTag­gart.

“It is cer­tainly im­pres­sive at his age,” said deputy chief Cliff Warner, af­ter show­ing the boy around the fire hall and some of the trucks.

McTag­gart was es­pe­cially young when the seeds of this book se­ries first sprouted. He was only three and a half.

“I was at a Food Bank Friday event in Co­quit­lam mak­ing a do­na­tion when a fire truck rolled in. I was in awe,” he told The Cit­i­zen.

“I was be­ing in­ter­viewed by a re­porter about my do­na­tion, but when the fire truck ar­rived I just stopped and stared.

“The re­porter wanted to know why I just stopped talk­ing, and my par­ents ex­plained it was be­cause fire­fight­ers were my su­per­heroes.”

When his el­e­men­tary school teacher asked each stu­dent to make a book for a class project, McTag­gart’s was on fire­fight­ers and he went far be­yond the re­quire­ments his teacher set out for length and com­po­si­tion. It was that process that sparked the idea about do­ing a book.

His mother is an air force vet­eran and his father a car­pen­ter and mar­ket­ing en­tre­pre­neur, so the fam­ily dy­namic was con­ducive to McTag­gart’s affin­ity for first re­spon­ders and public safety, and feel­ing em­pow­er­ment to spread his sto­ries.

“It’s a very good way to spend time with my dad. He helps me de­velop the sto­ries,” McTag­gart said. “We think of things off the top of our heads. We talk about ideas that fit to­gether. We run sce­nar­ios. We cut a lot of it out, I don’t like that, be­cause some­times we want to add it back in later but it’s gone. It forms into a book af­ter awhile.”

When McTag­gart was won­der­ing out loud what a fire­fighter would have to do if Santa got stuck in a chim­ney, his very first book was ig­nited.

Iron­i­cally, McTag­gart ad­mits that he isn’t much of a reader.

He likes the Percy Jack­son book se­ries, but he prefers to be play­ing hockey or lacrosse or video games in­stead of read­ing. Writ­ing is an­other mat­ter. He has an ac­tive imag­i­na­tion and an an­i­mated cu­rios­ity. Ev­ery time he fin­ishes a book he has ideas for a dozen more al­ready mulling in his brain, and when he is out and about liv­ing life, bits of it will spark creative el­e­ments for his next story.

When he at­tended a Su­per­dogs show, the in­spi­ra­tion for the Brandy story flashed in his mind.

McTag­gart’s books are pub­lished by Tel­lWell Talent of Vic­to­ria.

They are avail­able for sale on­line via Ama­zon or his www. nathanssu­per­heroes.com web­site.

“One of Nathan’s favourite parts is, at the back of the books, there are five pages where the chil­dren can take the book to lo­cal fire halls and have their su­per he­roes sign them,” said Keven.

“Since we launched his first book, Santa & His Su­per Hero, two years ago, we have do­nated $2,500 to the BC Pro­fes­sional Fire Fight­ers Burn Fund and over $2,000 to other de­serv­ing char­i­ties.”

The re­cep­tion was so warm in Prince Ge­orge, plans are al­ready form­ing in the McTag­gart fam­ily sched­ule to re­turn for fu­ture vis­its.

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY BRENT BRAATEN

Nathan McTag­gart shows Prince Ge­orge Fire Res­cue Deputy Chief Cliff Warner his third chil­dren’s book, Brandy & Her Su­per Hero, about the Cari­boo for­est fires.

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