The Loxleys and Confederation by Mark Zuehlke and Claude St Aubin
|The Loxleys and Confederation by Mark Zuehlke and Claude St Aubin|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: You might have to ignore the graphic novel leanings of this book, for whatever your age it is doubtful you know a portion of the contents on how Canada was formed. Don't treat this as a child's book – just treat it as useful.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 106||Date: July 2015|
|Publisher: Renegade Arts Entertainment|
|External links: Author's website|
There is a huge hole in my history knowledge where North America is concerned. Slowly, from an opening of sheer ignorance, having never studied it whatsoever at school, I've got a small grip on things like the Civil War, the foundations of the USA and a few other things. But that means nothing as far as this book is concerned, for that huge hole is Canada. No, I didn't have an inkling about how it was trying to unify, just as the American Civil War was in full pelt just across the border. I didn't know what was there before Canada, if you see what I mean. The story does have some things in common with that of their southern neighbours – European occupancy being slowly turned into a list of states as we know them now, slowly spreading into the heart of the continent with the help of the railways etc; native 'Indians' being 'in the way'; past trading agreements to either maintain or try to improve on; and so on – but of course it also had the British vs French issue. But did you know how an American President getting shot at the theatre had a bearing on the story? Or the Irish? Like I said, a huge hole…
The question remains whether this is a plug big enough to fill that hole. And I suppose it is, although I will forever remain a little leaky. For a start, it didn't grip me at all at the beginning. Our main character, young Lillian Loxley (so young you can't tell whether she or her mother is the older), is given a clunky manner in which to follow the birth of her modern nation, and so we see her diary entries as she tells us what is going on. Forever surrounded by men all looking the same in the same clothes, she pieces the story together for us, but it's quite hard work until the natural momentum and drama of the events take hold. Part of this is down to this book being a sequel, and as far as these characters are people we should worry about a fair bit is given over to letting the returning reader know what's happened since book one.
But that's not to say this is nearly as bad as it could be in that regard. The journalistic leaning of her family is actually a successful way to get Lillian on the scene, and nowhere does it seem daft and childish that she's put where she never would be. I feared a selection of scenes that would be all exposition, character A telling character B what character B already knows in case we don't, but we don't get that. You don't get the problem of the book holding your hand too much, either – as the early confusion I found proved. So where I thought to be calling this a history book for the 'confident reader' market, I don't feel like putting an age range on the book at all. It doesn’t read at all exclusively like a child's read, and, to repeat, it is bound to have something to teach to all audiences.
And the good thing is that it isn't too teachy. Yes, the graphic novel section slips aside at the end for an extended epilogue from Lillian's pen, where she goes into greater depth about certain issues, but the book doesn't force its knowledge on you. The artwork is certainly child-friendly, and the colouring vivid, but that's not a major problem. I still don't hold Lillian's personal story in much regard, however she travelled and wherever (even to see a still-gleaming 'Big Ben tower', within ten years of its completion), but I have to be thankful this book has opened up my mind to that gaping hole, and gone some decent way to fill it.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
While having some of the problems I thought to find here, The Industrial Revolution (Campfire Graphic Novels) by Lewis Helfand and Naresh Kumar is another historical book in graphic form.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Loxleys and Confederation by Mark Zuehlke and Claude St Aubin at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Loxleys and Confederation by Mark Zuehlke and Claude St Aubin at Amazon.com.
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