This attractive book is a welcome addition to readers of historical fiction, particularly those who wish to familiarize themselves with the Canadian perspective of a pivotal war that impacted Canada, the United States, and Great Britain. The foreword pays homage to the research and creative teams, followed by a historically accurate story featuring a fictional Canadian family told in comic book format. The story is followed by a sixty-four page illustrated essay about the war and its major elements and consequences written by Mark Zuehlke, an acclaimed Canadian military historian. The illustrations for the essay are relevant images from the comic book. The book, aimed at an educational audience, may be accessorized with an app — free to Canadians and co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada — that includes interactive maps, an educational study guide (also available as a pdf), and a cinematic soundtrack. There is also a website incorporating the characters of the book into the historical events.
Related through journal entries written by various female family members remaining at home in the Niagara peninsula of Ontario and letters to them from male members at diverse fronts of the war, the human and political aspects of key historical events are contextualized for an audience chiefly unfamiliar with them. The incorporation of the sketches from one of the younger members of the family effectively indicates the passage of time and the changes that occur for the family before, during, and after this war. The Loxleys, four generations of Loyalist transplants from Pennsylvania, immediately engage in the war when they first hear of it. This allows for the witnessing the power and death of the legendary general Sir Isaac Brock, the heroism of Laura Secord, the Green Tigers, and other historical personages and events that take place. The domestic adversities faced by those at home are placed side by side with the military exploits, presenting an equal and complete picture of the toils of warfare.
This is not a sanitized look at a war but one that emphasizes the human costs resulting from governmental ambitions and expansionist designs. By making one of the sons-in-law a French-Canadian, and having one of the younger children befriend Firebrand, a First Nation child, the story incorporates a multiplicity of viewpoints and historical elements that round out this thorough examination of this component of North American history. Firebrand, who lost his father at the Battle of Prophetstown, conveys the story of the rise of Tecumseh, his alliance with Britain, and his quest for an Indigenous Confederacy.
The full colour palate, with intense hues of reds, greens, and blues and a variety of panel sizes interspersed with full page illustrations, vividly actualize the battles, the joy, and the sorrows of all members of the family. While the family members are not particularly well-rounded (there are too many of them involved with too much dramatic action) they are recognizable and relatable for all ages of the intended reading audience. The variety of narrative voices, attention to detail, and the striking drawings add to the effectiveness of this title.