CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 12. . . .November 23, 2012.
The fictive Loxleys are four generations of one family living in a large farmstead in Queenston, Upper Canada, on the Niagara frontier. Like many of their neighbours, they are loyalists who moved from American territory following the U.S. War of Independence. By centering this account of the War of 1812 on the impact upon the members of this family, the creators have been able to incorporate many narrative voices, including writing in journals by two of the women, letters home by several of the men who end up with various militias, spoken text and occasionally drawings by one of the family members. This approach will give readers considerable historical insight into the effect of the war on average citizens, yet the creators also are quite thorough in telling the traditional tale of war: causes, campaigns, political and military leaders, and, in this instance, the role of those native peoples who allied with the British troops in an effort to secure freedom from further encroachment on their territories by American settlers.
This large format graphic novel will have wide appeal because of its vibrantly coloured illustrations, attention to details, adventure, and variety of narrative voices. The creators are an international team of award-winning writers and artists. The Loxleys and the War of 1812 consists of a 101 page comic, followed by 55 pages of “Historical Summary” of the War of 1812 written by Canadian historian Mark Zuehlke that is illustrated with images taken from the comic book plus two new maps. Zuehlke’s summary is a valuable addition as it explains more clearly the causes of the war and delves into the military and diplomatic history in more depth than the comic. Zuehlke writes in an age appropriate fashion, but some of the naval terms may be new to many readers.
The book’s website, www.1812timeline.com, purports to take viewers “through the events leading up to, during and after the war, with links to good historical resources and current events planned for the bicentenary. The timeline also incorporates the characters from our graphic novel into the actual historical events, as well as allowing event organizers to add their 1812 bicentenary event to the current event timeline to help spread the word and raise awareness.” The historic timeline includes many entries that are classified into four colour coded categories: political, military, Napoleonic, Loxleys. Apart from the fictive Loxley events, the historic events include one or more links to resources as diverse as Wikipedia, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography online, U.S. Naval Institute, the Library of Congress’s online content, and numerous other not for profit and some commercial websites. Usually the link opens in a frame that displays overtop of the main site, in a screen that strips off the source url and will complicate students’ ability to cite a source. Other links open in the main browser and require the use of the back arrow to get back to the main timeline. A separate current events timeline allows historic sites and museums etc. to submit for incorporation bicentennial event listings from 2012 to 2014. Viewers may need to scroll down the main page to find the current events link. Despite some navigation issues including slow speed of loading some pages, the website has good potential for leading students beyond the content of the graphic novel and Zuehlke’s “Historical Summary”.
Val Ken Lem is a librarian with collection liaison responsibilities for English, history and Caribbean studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.