Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
Firebird explores a period in our history - one year in particular (1915–1916) - when a massive number of newcomers were deemed “enemy aliens,” arrested and put into internment camps set up all across Canada. Alex Kaminsky, a fourteen-year-old Ukrainian immigrant boy, suffers burns to his hands and face when his uncle’s farmhouse burns down. Rescued by a neighbour, he is tended to by a backcountry midwife before being taken in by a local postmaster. Determined to search for his older brother, an itinerant farm worker (and talented artist) who has disappeared, Alex follows Marco’s trail from a Vegreville farm to Edmonton. From there he is on the run from officials to Calgary and finally Banff, where he finds his brother close to death in the Castle Mountain Internment Camp. In many ways it is a voyage of discovery for Alex, discovery of the hatred harboured by many for immigrants who once lived happy lives in what has become an enemy empire. But also the discovery of those with a strong sense of humanity who decry Marco’s treatment and go the extra mile to help the brothers. For readers who believe such internment camps began only with Japanese Canadians in WWII, Firebird will be an eye-opening experience.
About the author
From his earliest years, Glen Huser has loved to write and read and draw and paint. That’s when he wasn’t losing himself in the dark cocoon of a movie theatre or picking out old-time radio standards and Broadway musical hits on the piano. As a teacher and school librarian for a lengthy career in Edmonton, he worked his passions for art and literature into school projects such as Magpie, an in-house quarterly featuring writing and art from students. In his off hours, he wrote movie reviews for a local weekly, children’s book reviews for The Edmonton Journal, and got his small ink landscapes into galleries. As he worked on a degree in Education and then a Masters in English at the U of A, he had the good fortune to work under the tutelage of Rudy Wiebe, Margaret Atwood and W. O. Mitchell. For several years he was a sessional lecturer in children’s literature, information studies and creative writing at the U of A in Edmonton and UBC in Vancouver. His first novel Grace Lake was shortlisted for the 1992 W.H. Smith-Books in Canada First Novel Award. He has written several books for young adult readers including the Governor General’s Award-winner Stitches and the GG finalist Skinnybones and the Wrinkle Queen. Short stories have appeared in a number of literary magazines, most recently Plenitude and Waterloo University’s The New Quarterly. Glen’s current home is Vancouver where he continues to write as well as pursue interests in art and film studies.