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Children's Nonfiction Pre-confederation (to 1867)


by (author) James Laxer

illustrated by Richard Rudnicki

Groundwood Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Jun 2012
Pre-Confederation (to 1867), Historical, Native Canadian
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2012
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2012
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Longlisted for the Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award

Two hundred years after his death, the Shawnee chief Tecumseh is still considered one of the greatest leaders of North America's First Peoples. This richly illustrated biography tells the story of his remarkable life, culminating in the War of 1812.

Tecumseh, born in 1768, lived during turbulent times: the thirteen colonies revolted against British rule, becoming the United States in 1776, and settlers had begun to push westward, rapidly encroaching on the traditional lands of the First Peoples. Tecumseh realized that unless the tribes came together to form a great confederacy, they would never be able to hold onto their land. And so he began to travel great distances, encouraging many tribes to join forces with him against the Americans.

On June 18, 1812, the US declared war on Great Britain. Tecumseh sided with the British, hoping to create an independent native state north of the Ohio River. He developed a magnetic friendship with Major General Isaac Brock, commander of the British troops in Upper Canada, and together they took Fort Detroit. Tecumseh and Brock agreed that one of the goals of their alliance should be to restore lands that had been taken from native peoples. But shortly afterwards Brock was killed in the Battle of Queenston Heights. Tecumseh rallied those loyal to him and fought on relentlessly, but was killed in the Battle of Moraviantown in 1813. Tecumseh's dreams were never fulfilled, but he remains a symbol of justice for the First Peoples of North America.

Tecumseh will be published on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. The book includes an epilogue, a timeline, a glossary and maps.

About the authors

James Laxer, a professor of political science at York University in Toronto, has a wealth of experience analyzing American society. His best-selling book, Stalking the Elephant: My Discovery of America was described by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Boston Globe David Shribman as "a book by a Canadian that can change the United States." The book was by published by the New Press in New York under the title Discovering America: Travels in the Land of Guns, God and Corporate Gurus. One of Canada’s leading political thinkers, Laxer is frequently consulted for commentary of current national and global issues by the media. He lives in Toronto.

James Laxer's profile page

Richard Rudnicki est réputé pour ses tableaux dépeignant la Nouvelle-Écosse ainsi que pour ses albums jeunesse primés. Richard enseigne le dessin et anime fréquemment des ateliers dans des écoles. Il habite Halifax.


Richard Rudnicki is an artist known for his paintings of Nova Scotia as well as for his award-winning children's books. Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck by Judith Meyrick won the Lillian Sheppard Memorial Award for Excellence in illustration and was finalist for the APMA Best Atlantic Published Book Award. Richard also teaches figure drawing and portraiture and frequently gives school workshops. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Richard Rudnicki's profile page


  • Long-listed, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award

Editorial Reviews

... richly coloured and detailed illustrations and accessible text depicting the journey of Tecumseh...

The Deakin Review of Children's Literature

Librarian Reviews


In this picture book, Laxer tells the story of Shawnee chief Tecumseh from his birth by the Ohio River to his death during the War of 1812. Tecumseh was a visionary leader who realized that in order to stop the encroachment of European settlers into Aboriginal lands, the tribes would have to work together. Travelling far and wide he created a native confederacy with the goal of establishing a state between the United States and Canada. When the United States declared war on Britain, Tecumseh decided to fight for the British if they would help him regain native lands. General Brock guaranteed there would be no peace until the native lands were secure. When peace was signed, however, the Americans refused to accept this condition and although both sides agreed to restore native lands as they had been before the war, this has been largely ignored.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2012-2013.


Born during turbulent times, Tecumseh realized that unless native peoples came together to form a confederacy they would not hold onto their land. As a great orator, he encouraged other tribes to join forces with his own Shawnee people and sided with the British when the United States declared war on Great Britain. This richly illustrated biography was published as a tribute to Tecumseh on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Spring, 2012.

Other titles by James Laxer

Other titles by Richard Rudnicki